With the help of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC), Mike Martin was able to fulfill his dream of creating a taproom that served more than just beer and wine in his community of Jefferson, Georgia.
“When researching the needs of Jefferson, I was expecting to hear about homelessness, poverty and food insecurity. While those needs exist, the biggest need I heard was to create a place for people to gather to establish that sense of community,” said Martin.
With his parents prepared to cosign for a loan, Martin and his wife, Jessie, took this idea to the bank. They left without a loan, and instead had a referral to meet with the UGA SBDC to learn about financing options through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The Martins met with David Stob, business consultant for the UGA SBDC in Athens. Stob encouraged the Martins to apply for an SBA loan, which eliminated the need for a co-signor. To prepare for the application, he helped them put together a business plan with full financial projections and a proposed budget.
“When we met with David, it changed our whole direction. It was so incredibly helpful,” said Mike Martin. “When Jessie and I went to the bank and presented the plan that second time, we felt really confident. We knew the numbers were right. It gave me a high degree of confidence and I felt proud of what we had put together with the UGA SBDC.”
The Martins received the loan and used it toward the purchase of the property and equipment for their new business, Revival Hall Taproom.
Revival Hall Taproom has the expected beer and wine on tap and events for patrons. Live music, trivia, bingo and cornhole tournaments are frequently on the calendar. But this taproom also designates some of these events as “Marking and Meaningful Events,” with proceeds going to a local family or individual in need.
“We do a lot of just regular events, but then we sprinkle in the ‘Marking and Meaningful’ events to inject some positivity into the world,” said Martin.
In the last four years, the Martins have donated $50,000 to locals in need.
Revival Hall also hosts events designed to start a conversation that continues outside the walls of the business—like Dads on Tap.
“It’s a night for dads that care about being a dad. We meet, we have a keynote speaker, a discussion panel and a beer and talk about what it means to be a good dad. And learn how to become a better one,” said Martin.
As their business has grown, so has their relationship with the UGA SBDC.
“Anytime we are making a business decision, we reach out to the UGA SBDC and I know David will help us,” said Martin.
Stob taught Martin the business importance of setting employee expectations and assisted in the development of an employee handbook. He also advised them with on their plan to add additional event space by expanding into the building next door.
When they needed assistance organizing their accounting, Stob brought in a co-consultant, Mike Myers, senior business consultant at the UGA SBDC, who taught them how to best organize the bookkeeping for the business.
“Our books got muddy really quickly and were not well done,” said Martin. “Mike [Myers] stepped in and spent countless hours combing through our books and teaching us the right way to manage them and the best way to categorize things. He got us set up on QuickBooks and taught me several important program functions that I still use every day.”
Community leaders in the neighboring town of Braselton took notice of Revival Hall’s success.
“The city manager of Braselton was aware of our business and wanted to bring in a similar, quality business to their downtown,” said Martin. “When a space became available, we knew to reach out to the UGA SBDC for assistance with another SBA loan.”
With the loan secure, the Martins opened Flourish Taproom in 2021.
Both locations were fortunate to see success right away. Since opening in 2019, Revival Hall has doubled its sales and grown from eight to 15 employees.
For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762