30 May LTFF Blog: It Takes a Village…to Make a Bar
By Shakira Brauchie, LTFF Director of Finance and Administration
Two years ago, on a bright, beautiful spring day, three friends sat down to discuss the logistics of opening a bar. It was something that had been discussed in casual conversation, for about 6 months or so, usually involving drinks while watching soccer. This was different. This meeting
was the first real pen-to-paper conversation. There, Justin Brauchie, Kyla Holderness and I outlined what we needed to make this dream a reality and so started the journey of opening The Tulsan Bar.
We were lucky, in some regards. We were not starting from ground zero on industry knowledge. Kyla Holderness, owner and operator of Empire Bar, is no stranger to this industry. Her family opened Cherry Street Pub in 1991. In 1997, she took over ownership of Cherry Street Pub and rebranded as Empire Bar, a local soccer pub. Her first adventure downtown was Templ Bar which she opened in 2006, later rebranding as Candy Bar in 2009. After a 2-year run as Candy Bar, Kyla close the downtown location to focus her attention on an ailing family member.
Justin Brauchie has worked in the service/hospitality industry since 1999. He has been a food server, bartender, linen account manager and Oklahoma Restaurant Association representative. Currently, he is a partner of Anthem Business Solution and manages a sales team of three. Anthem Business Solutions sells point-of-sales systems, system support and connective services.
I add a natural business acumen and 16 years of accounting, human resources, and administration. Some of our favorite small business in Tulsa are Hodges Bend, Lefty’s on Greenwood, Amelia’s and Antoinette Baking Company. Naturally, we contacted Torey Brown, owner of Brownwood LLC, who had built these locations. He has worked in the design and construction industry for 14 years and has been a personal friend of Kyla’s for 20 years. Torey was so excited about the project, he knew he couldn’t build The Tulsan Bar and just walk away, so he joined our team.
While we were all instrumental in building the business enterprise, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our employees and customers. That is the real special sauce that “makes” our bar and has contributed to its unique identity. Together, we created a bar with a sense of community where friends can gather.
In April, I was excited to join the LTFF team as the Director of Finance and Administration. LTFF is focused on reducing barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed. Having a small business of my own, I truly understand the challenges our clients face. We have learned so many critical lessons throughout our growth, and I hope to apply what I have learned launching my own small business to help others within our local community realize their dreams as well.