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Greenville Entrepreneur Discovers a Gap in the Hospitality Industry

At the time, Tammy Johnson was employed by a catering company in Greenville, SC as a Catering Sales Manager.  Johnson was trying to assist her customers with a bartender for hire when she discovered that there were no bartenders for in the Upstate area. She decided to launch a new business, Liquid Catering, LLC in 2011.

Liquid Catering is a bar-only catering company serving the Upstate. Liquid Catering has become not only Johnson’s sole venture, but is actually one of four firms she owns under the High Spirits Hospitality (HSH) brand. Johnson now oversees The Old Cigar Warehouse-event venue, Bravo1 Protection-private security company, and Top-side Pool Club-a rooftop social club. Each firm has a related focus and emphasis.

HSH has grown tremendously over the last seven years. There was only one employee from the initial launch and now HSH employs 18 full-time staff members and 60 or so part-time people.  Johnson provides a great deal of support for her employees and encourages them to support the Upstate area economically and socially.

“I sit on quite a few boards and HSH has donated over $100,000 in local sponsorships in the community. Also I encourage everyone to buy locally as much as possible,” said Johnson.

“With every business venture there are challenges. Learning the business, taking a concept new to Greenville and creating the awareness were the some of the challenges I had to overcome. The SBDC in Greenville helped me overcome these challenges,” said Johnson.

 SBDCs provide a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. By supporting business growth, sustainability and enhancing the creation of new businesses entities, SBDCs foster local and regional economic development through job creation and retention. As a result of the no cost, extensive, one-on-one, long-term professional business advising, low-cost training and other specialized services SBDC clients receive, the program remains one of the nation’s largest small business assistance programs in the federal government. 

“The Old Cigar Warehouse was decision I made because the opportunity was just right. Currently I am focusing on building the corporate side of the business such as documenting all of our processes,” said Johnson.

When questions about the most rewarding part of owning a business, Johnson talked about the actual start and becoming successful.

“Getting to see something grow and taking the idea to next level and achieving success is the most rewarding,” said Johnson. “The hardest part is trying to not get burned out and realizing you can’t do everything one day."

Johnson offered some advice for someone thinking about starting a small business.

“Do your research and be careful where and how you spend your money,”  said Johnson.