Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we learn about a new restaurant in Bremen and the journey the owners had to take to get there.
Ever wonder what goes into opening a small business for the first time? The folks at Rushcreek Pub & Grub have a tale for you!
“I wish I still had that text!” Tara Bobo exclaimed. It was late and Tara was settling in for the night. “Basically I got this text as I’m lying in bed that says something like ‘I want to own a bar/restaurant.’ That’s all it said. It was from my brother Chad.”
With that one statement grew an idea and Tara and her brother Chad Ashbaugh began the journey of opening a family owned business. This was not a lifelong dream for either of them. It was simply a desire to serve the people of their community with a place to gather, have a good meal and enjoy great times.
After that initial text, the siblings engaged in many conversations where they hashed out some basic wants and needs, allowing room for this crazy idea to take form. It had to be family friendly but also serve as a gathering spot for friends and entertainment. A pub and grub, if you will.
Tara and Chad began researching locations and eventually found the perfect spot: a well-known brick building at the busiest intersection in Bremen. It’s known in the area as a former car lot, an old restaurant and home of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It was the ideal spot.
The only problem? They didn’t know who owned the property or if it would be for sale. As it turns out, the struggle to find answers would be a common theme throughout their journey. As first time business owners, the pair would go on to learn everything about running a restaurant from the ground up.
After connecting with the property owner, their offer was quickly accepted and the wild idea of this endeavor had suddenly become a reality.
Bremen had been a dry town since just after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. That is, no alcohol was sold or allowed inside of businesses within the village until a vote of the residents changed that in 2018. While business are now permitted to serve alcohol, the new law did not mean that every business is inherently able to do so, according to Tara.
She credited finding the right people who could help them navigate acquiring a liquor license. It was a stranger in local government who helped. “I just happened to talk to the right person on the right day – I wish I had her name – at the Board of Elections and she really knew her stuff. She was able to help us out and guide us more than she knows and we were able to get things moving.”
Tara’s daughter Brooke took the lead and got the petition signatures needed to have the issue on the ballot. It passed.
Meanwhile, Chad had begun working on the physical space. He gutted the building, starting from scratch so they could give their ideas room to grow. Tara said that it was intimidating, to say the least. “Chad redid it all on the weekends and I stayed away,” she recalled. She was busy with her career in health care, hesitant to take the plunge completely into the world of entrepreneurship. “I was initially resistant to open. I lacked the confidence in knowing what I was doing as a new business owner, and I just wasn’t yet all-in.”
That’s when another of those “right people” entered the scene and the apprehension began to subside. Local business owner Scott Pletcher connected with Tara and Chad. He used his experience with small business operations and the restaurant industry to guide them through challenging decisions regarding space, logistics and equipment. “He was great. He really knew his way around. Again, he was just the right person for us and a huge help in all of this!”
With the remodel nearing completion, Tara left her healthcare position so she could devote her attention to this crazy adventure they now call Rushcreek Pub & Grub.
“We hired 29 people right away. Shout out to Samantha and Kia, who’ve worked in the industry a long time and helped us with the front of the house operations,” Tara said.
While it was still trial by fire, a friends and family night gave them some needed experience before the big opening. Taking an eyes-wide-open approach, they learned quickly what worked and what needed improvement. They brought in someone to consult on the kitchen work flow and were still making changes shortly after they opened.
And just like that, it all came together and the family business has been moving full steam ahead ever since.
“It’s a true family affair – we’ve had the whole family here helping at different times. Nieces and nephews, inlaws, sister, kids, they’ve all helped along the way in every manner,” she said.
The family Christmas was even held at the restaurant. “We were still new and trying to get this business going so we just held Christmas here. Mom even decorated the tree we had in here,” Tara recalled fondly. “And then we opened up for business that evening!”
Rushcreek Pub & Grub features beautiful rustic industrial style décor that complements the historic brick building. Sit-down and high-top tables join a full bar while a private party room and a full patio are available for outdoor dining and socializing. Combined with a menu of creative appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, it’s truly fit for families and the community.
As they fine-tune operations and grow, they are developing a following for their specials and events as well. They host musicians on the weekends and have held trivia and bingo nights. Some bike nights are planned and Wicked Wing Wednesdays were recently introduced. The back room can be separated into a private space and is able to be used as such. It can also be rented for private events.
“Chad could have bought a bar or restaurant anywhere. There were opportunities. But they weren’t here. We’re community oriented. We want to be here serving our people, our community,” Tara stated, emphasizing the importance of being in this exact location not out of necessity, but desire. “We’re here because we want to be here.”
Rushcreek Pub & Grub is located at 102 North Broad Street in Bremen. Follow them on Facebook for complete hours, menu, events and other updates. You can also find their Events and Special Entertainment page here.