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Key Idea: Tighten Your Belt

Bill Sugars and Pat Elmquest convinced their wives that getting the $2 million dollar loan would result in an improvement in their net worth long term.

Key Question:


Keep business and personal expenses low.

Q: What did both couples have to do during the business expansion period?

A: They had to cut up their credit cards and cut back on all expenses. With a big monthly loan payment, the owners could not afford to pay themselves the type of salaries and benefits they had earned while working in big business.

Think about it

If you decided to invest in expansion, would your family be supportive?

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.

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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

Tighten Your Belt

BILL: Again, I'm very fortunate. Both Pat and I have wives who are very confident in our ability...

HATTIE: I know. They cut up their Neiman-Marcus credit cards, said, `Well, we won't use these for two years.'

BILL: Well, yeah. They looked and said, `You guys are crazy, but if you really believe in it,' you know, they backed us 100 percent. We had absolutely no problem there.

HATTIE: So when you went to the bank and got all these loans to do all this expansion, what did Diane say?

PAT: She says, `Do you realize we're 50 years old and we now own nothing?' I said, `Sweetheart, you can't look back, baby.' I said, `It's done.' She said, `You know, most guys in your position couldn't sleep.' I said, `It's too late.'

HATTIE: He actually let you come in and have a part of his restaurant.

BILL: Yeah, because he saw the opportunity. He knew that he was closed in...

HATTIE: He was at the edge.

BILL: Right.

HATTIE: He couldn't do anymore.

BILL: There wasn't much more he could do because there was no more space. And the bar needed some renovation, and he wanted to provide some more food items, which he couldn't do. The kitchen was down there. It was...


PAT: We had a little 50-square-foot kitchen, very small menu. But even then, our food was the number-one attraction.

BILL: The one thing that was devoid in this market was good, handcrafted beer. And when I was doing consulting work, after I left corporate America for Abbott Laboratories, I was traveling around the United States. And I would always book myself into cities that had brew pubs or microbreweries.

HATTIE: So you were doing research for seven or eight years before.

BILL: Actually, it was about a two-year time period that--when I left Schering-Plough in 1990, I spent the next two years putting the business plan and marketing plan together. And I would go visit brew pubs and microbreweries in the morning, and I'd do my consulting work in the afternoon and evenings. And there's four things that make this business work: location--we have the best location in Lake County. You've got 28,000 cars a day that go up and down Milwaukee Avenue.

HATTIE: How do you know that?

BILL: By surveys--traffic surveys.


BILL: Yeah, it's available. And anybody can get that type of information from their Economic Development Council or their Chamber of Commerce. They do traffic surveys all the time. So that's number one. Number two is consistency and quality of food for value, and the same thing for beer, consistency and quality of beer. And the fourth is staffing.

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