You may have heard about their grand opening, or perhaps that they are pouring a delicious cocktail, but have you heard how Chris and Cindy Reed, owners of The Grocery Cocktail & Social, launched the dream of owning their own place?
Like their specialty drink recipes, Chris and Cindy stirred together the right combination of ingredients to present themselves as eligible borrowers. Chris brought to the table over a decade’s worth of restaurant and hospitality industry experience, including having worked his way from sous-chef to general manager of the well-known Screen Door restaurant in Portland. Experience was a great first building block. Chris’ career history gave him the right ideas about operations and management, while Cindy brought to the table her experience as a customer service manager in the banking industry, and as a current Starbucks store manager—but as their pursuit solidified, the Reeds decided they needed to put together a comprehensive business plan.
Chris and Cindy sought out the help of business plan mentors at the Fort Vancouver chapter of SCORE. Business planning guidance is one of the services SCORE mentors provide for free. First they met with Mike Pawlowski, who worked with them on their overarching presentation, then assisted them in dialing in their financial projections. With a solid business plan in hand, the next feat was finding funding--but, where to shop for a loan? Scott Bossom at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Portland District Office (which covers Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties) was able to help the Reeds narrow their lender search based on their specific needs.
The Reeds met with a few banks to see who might be interested in financing their proposal, and also who they felt confident about working with. After a discussion with Columbia State Bank, they knew that was where they wanted to start a business relationship. The well-assembled business plan, and the Reeds’ competent presentation of it, made Columbia State Bank amenable to the deal with a guarantee through the SBA’s 7a lending program.
Deciding to locate in a historic section of downtown Vancouver introduced some permitting challenges, but Chris and Cindy were already well on their way. Their good momentum surmounted the obstacles before them, and resulted in the manifestation of their entrepreneurial dream: The Grocery Social & Cocktail, “a friendly, food driven bar, aimed at selling locally sourced food and hand crafted cocktails”.