“Northern Initiatives has provided marketing strategies and is helping me build a website. All of that will enhance my business.” – Tiffany Gault, owner
Tiffany Gault worked at a Manistique bar a decade ago to put herself through college. When the building came up for sale at a reasonable price after sitting dormant for several years, she jumped at the opportunity to purchase it and become a first-time business owner. Gault renovated the former Harbor Bar on Cedar Street and re-opened it as Tap 21 in December 2016. True to its name, the nostalgic speakeasy offers 21 alternating regional craft beers on tap, along with bottled varieties and cocktails. The kitchen opened in June, serving up savory appetizers, lunches and dinners while expanding the clientele.
“It’s going great,” said Gault of her new venture. “I wanted to work for myself and I’m able to do that from a wonderful piece of Manistique history. The mahogany back bar is the original from 1893. It’s just beautiful. Many who come here want their pictures taken with it. People are responding well to the craft beers. For those who are more serious about it, we use DigitalPour software. They can download an app to see updated lists of what’s on tap here and at other places that use DigitalPour. They find that fascinating.”
Craft brews are the focus, but Gault “took the bull by the horns” and added food because she has always loved cooking for big parties. Some of her recipes are featured on the menu. The specialty is the Tap Burger, topped with grilled onions and smothered in beer cheese with a bacon balsamic jam on a toasted brioche bun.
In developing a business plan for Tap 21, Gault and her husband, Rick, had researched similar establishments in the Petoskey and Traverse City areas. She was able to secure a loan through Northern Initiatives to provide working capital and fund kitchen equipment. Gault also benefited from NI business services.
“They put me in touch with someone who’s a guru with QuickBooks,” she said. “That was very helpful. I was also able to talk with [former NI customer] Dan Torres to talk about adding food service to the business because he’s opened and owned successful restaurants and had great advice. Northern Initiatives has provided marketing strategies and is helping me build a website. All of that will enhance my business.”
Gault is not a beer drinker, but that did not dissuade her from pursuing a business opportunity that literally “taps” into the rising popularity of craft beer. As a bartender at the former Harbor Bar prior to its closure, Gault was familiar with the seasonal nature of the business. She is optimistic that the craft beer and food combination will help to build a more consistent customer base.
Once a thriving lumber town on the shore of Lake Michigan, Manistique has become a year-round recreation destination. Tap 21 is assisting in its downtown redevelopment.
Tap 21 Company Impacts
- Jobs Created: 4-Full Time, 2 Part-Time
- Woman-owned Business