My Library and Courses
Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Buy A Business You Love

Mickey Finn's has been "a place to go" when all others abandoned downtown.  It has been a drinking establishment for over a hundred years.  More...

Key Question:


Start by finding a business you love.

Bill and Pat used to be regular customers at Mickey Finn's and Pat bought the business because he loved being there. Since he was tired of his big corporate job he figured he could turn his hobby of drinking beer into a way to make a living. Bill observed Pat running the place and he too loved hanging around Mickey Finn's.

Q: What did Pat and Bill fall in love with?

A: The location, the history and the crowds. Mickey Finn's is an establishment, an institution on Libertyville's "Main Street." Just like a shopping mall, The Main Street Association works to promote activity in this historic business district. The bar is 100 years old and is steeped in charm and tradition. Also, before the expansion, they had to turn people away. Twenty-five miles north of Chicago's O'Hare Airport, thousands work in Chicago and love to escape "to the country" to find fun, food and relaxation. The research showed 28,000 cars drive by everyday.

Bill and Pat's research also revealed that a brewpub needs four things to be a success. The first factor is location; the second is consistent, quality food that's priced for value; the third is consistent, quality beer that's priced for value; and, the fourth is staffing. These partners were confident that since they had the right location, they could work to deliver to customers the other three factors and they have done it.

Think about it

What are the key factors for success in your industry? How does your business score high at everything on that list? does your trade association provide benchmarking? If yes, how do you measure up to the national standards?

Clip from: Mickey Finn

It is hard to imagine at one time this downtown was bleak.

Libertyville, Illinois: Discover how two men changed the face and the fortunes of a town. Pat Elmquest and Bill Sugars invested in their local community when no one else would. They dared to dream an impossible dream. The old downtown was virtually abandoned -- over 60% vacancy -- with pawn shops and the like.  Pat had bought a little pub; then with a $2 million loan, they expanded to make a brewery and restaurant... and the old downtown transformation was underway.

They were true pioneers ...the visionaries.  Today, Libertyville is an award-winning historic business district.

Go to all the Key Ideas and Video...
Go to a homepage for this episode...

Mickey Finn's Brewery

Brian Grano, Today's Owner & CEO

Founders: Pat Elmquest & Bill Sugars
412 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Libertyville, IL 60048

Visit our web site:

Office: 8473626688

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1990

Buy A Business You Love

HATTIE: (In the Studio) Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. Several of our programs this season will come to you from rejuvenated, historic business districts.

(Voiceover) Since 1980, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street programs have generated billions of dollars in physical improvements, tens of thousands of net new businesses and hundreds of thousands of net new jobs. We're in Libertyville, Illinois, just 25 miles north of Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

Libertyville's Main Street program has won the Great American Main Street Award. Much of the work to revitalize historic business districts has been done by small-business owners. Today, you'll meet Pat Elmquest and Bill Sugars, owners of Mickey Finn's. It's been a drinking establishment for over 100 years.

(Voiceover) It's Saturday night in downtown Libertyville.

Unidentified Man: Good thing about the stout, it's very creamy, it's very smooth.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Mickey Finn's is popping, as it is every night. And even with a recent expansion, customers still wait in line. This very spot in Libertyville has a long history as a tavern, but this latest version of Mickey Finn's is the creation of two corporate dropouts, Pat Elmquest and Bill Sugars. And it's bigger and probably better than it's ever been. Pat tells us how he became a pub owner.

PAT ELMQUEST (Mickey Finn's): I was on my way home from Los Angeles, and I stopped at Mickey Finn's on the way home for a bite to eat. And some friends were here, and we had dinner and we were chatting. And I think I alluded to the fact that, `I'm looking for something to do other than what I'm doing.' And one of them said, `Why don't you buy this place?' And I said, `I didn't know it was for sale.' I said, `I don't even know who owns it.' So I looked at it for a month and a half, at least, and the more I looked, the more I got interested. So I finally went home to my wife and I said, `Think I found something I'm interested in.' She says, `What?' And I said, `Mickey Finn's.' She said, `Oh, my God, a saloon?'

HATTIE: A saloon.

PAT: `Why would you do that?' you know?


PAT: Three months later, I owned it. So that's what happened.

HATTIE: And Diane still stayed married to you.

PAT: And she's still with me.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!