The past few weeks have been the some of the most eventful in my life. Unfortunately, none of it was related to this endeavor of ours! The week of unrest here in the Twin Cities certainly was historic and nerve wracking. Most of the issues were in Minneapolis, and the one night in St. Paul was far away from our location. At this point most of it seems behind us.

Yesterday we did our final walk through of the space. We cleared a couple bigger hurdles this past week. Our final real hurdle remaining is the lease. We are working with the landlords and will get further information on Monday. Then we will be able to make our official GO/NO GO for launch. The past months have been such a back and forth. It’s been a lot of thinking and research. There has been a lot to learn (which I have enjoyed) and listening to great people. It feels good to get to this last point. We have about all the information (that we can think of) put together so we can make the big decision.

Everything seems to be lining up positively so far. I made a bunch of estimates regarding financials and most everything seems to be coming in line with my guesses. There have been a couple cases where my estimates were too high and things have broken in our favor. That gives us a little more room for those items we know that we probably missed. We were able to work a deal for most of the remaining equipment in the room. This is awesome since it covers the majority of the furniture and devices we will need. There are some additional things we still have to purchase, however, not starting from scratch is a big advantage we are thankful for.

How we are feeling through the past weeks has been crazy. I even had a few dreams involving this adventure. I didn’t think they were nightmares. There are moments where we feel confident and excited. Then there are moments of fear and uncertainty. It has been a roller coaster and we haven’t really done anything yet!

Here’s to hoping my next post will be with news that this Saturn V rocket is ready for liftoff. Until next time…

— J

Finished the business plan! 8 pages of objectives, marketing, and a pile of financials. I was amazed how good it felt to get that completed. I may or may not have imbibed in adult beverages upon it’s completion this past Saturday. We did some more tweaking of the financial numbers. The scary part with those is that it’s not a no-brainer to go ahead, but also there are no big red flags saying we should stop. Our goal is to be a very artist friendly venue. A big part of this objective is that a large portion of the ticketing/cover charges will be going back to the artist. The remainder will cover our sound tech. What it means for us, is we have to make our money from the bar and our food.

I sent a copy of our plan into the city. We found out there are some programs the city has to help promote the arts here in St. Paul. I called them up and they indicated interest in trying to help us. That was very encouraging! As we sit on the fence, if we were able to get some sort of sizeable help from the city, that would most likely push us over the edge to get this thing going.

A sizeable chunk of our plan was marketing. Thinking of ideas and things to promote the business. What do we want the website to look like? What social media platforms will we use? What physical marketing can we do here in St. Paul? It really is just our first pass of ideas. We will have to be quick on our feet and creative in getting the word out. I have spent time looking at other music venues around the country for examples.

We are working with the management team for the space. We have not signed anything yet. That will be the true decision day. The previous tenant left a whole pile of equipment including an awesome piano. We are negotiating a price for all existing equipment. This would help us tremendously in both good price, and not having to haul it all in. We still will need to purchase some items, but around 60% of what we need is already there. We are hoping to see an asking price for the equipment in a few days. This will be a fun hurdle!

This coming week will be work on internal processes and paperwork. I am going to try to visualize what a typical week could look like, then document our thoughts. We both agree that it will important to have strong business processes to aid us (and future staff) in getting stuff done. It’s going to be interesting for sure! Until next time…


Hello again all,

This past weekend I spent some more time on this website. This is all new to me. Lots of time on Youtube trying things out. Also drafting plans for how we want to lay things out. My biggest concern is getting it to look right. I have spent the majority of my life in the engineering world. That will probably end up being obvious with the look of this site. We have considered getting a web designer to kick things off. However, one thing that is apparent is the financials of making this work are not easy.

The day I write this we have not officially published this site. I started looking at getting a Facebook page going. This is a tough one as we waffle about what we are going to do. The smart answer is to decide to go and get these things launched. That could help us start getting the word out regarding this venture. However then our fear kicks in. What if we create some news, put this out there, and then we end up not doing it? How would that be? I suppose as I write this perhaps it’s better to launch our web presence and have things fall through BEFORE signing the lease. Rather then saying nothing, going forward with opening and having zero time to create some buzz. Then pay the price by having empty seats in the opening weeks. The fear is quite real. Nothing Ventured nothing gained?

I had a goal of finishing the business plan this weekend, maybe that was too aggressive considering what work was left. There is another challenge. Trying to estimate how much time things take. This is a spot for a cliche … always takes longer than a person thinks.

I did put a bunch of work into a ‘Startup’ budget. Financially, I have us in two separate phases. The first is Startup Phase with associated budget. Then, on opening day, we will transition to operating phase. I have a different spreadsheet for that. The most difficult part is trying to forecast what Sales will be. We have spoken to people we know in the industry, however, it still is a guess. Another thing to make this decision more difficult.

The Startup phase is coming together. I used the price of buying new for the purpose of budgeting. We are hoping to go used shopping and help keep the costs down. It is better to over budget though. Items we are looking at include glassware, tables, chairs, appliances, sound equipment and POS Stations. I also include a few generic lines for smalls. Then finally a wild guess at labor. We are trying to define how much money total we would be putting into this venture. Hopefully help give us a direction.

I suppose the smart answer is don’t do it! This is nuts! Of course, how adventurous would that be? That back and forth is the hardest part. We are acting and moving like we are going to follow through, but then we wake up questioning ourselves. Asking if this is what we want to do. We have the moments where we think it’s too much and we should stop. Then the next day something happens or we hear supportive words from someone that have us keep going.

The next days I will keep on the business plan. Also, we want to try to get our ‘to do list’s together in some sort of organization. This should help us keep somewhat on task instead of bouncing around. Until next time…


Greetings all! My first post on something crazy we have been talking about. It started on a whim in December, then a follow up call in February, really started our brains. Right after we made a tour….. LOCK DOWN. What a great time to sit, and think, and fret, and be scared…..

Deep breaths….

We want to open a LIVE ORIGINAL MUSIC venue. We are 75% yes that we will move forward with it, but still have that tug asking if this is right for us. We have decided to take steps and act as if we are going to open this year. The real decision point will be when it is time to sign the lease. There is lots to do prior to that real commitment point.

We are thankful for the people we have met. We reached out to some good friends. People who have the experience that we do not. Our first discussion was encouraging and nerve racking. Listening to the how’s and what our new lives could look like. This past week we reached out to two others. We are very thankful they are in our lives. Their support certainly helped us.

We have started the paperwork adventure. First, was starting our company, a simple process along with a simple fee. A nice introduction to the world of fees. I tried to think of as many as I could when putting our initial numbers together. I am sure there will be bonus licenses and fees I didn’t think of. Hopefully those potholes aren’t so deep as to pop the tire.

We decided on a logo. Soon we will get it posted here. Letting it sink in for a few days prior to pulling the trigger on it. We are looking at going to bartending school! Our main plan is to hire properly qualified bartenders, however, to help us be more useful during busy times it would be good to have some basic knowledge. The added bonus is my wife and I learning a skill together. The last time we took lessons together wasn’t too long ago when we did several months of dance lessons.

Our business plan is almost complete. We are missing menus and I need to lay out the financial pages better. The spreadsheet I have built is getting a little unwieldy. Startup costs, weekly projections, yearly projections and places to try to run ‘what if’ scenarios. This is the part that is most frightening. Can the venue pull in the dollars I am projecting? What expenses am I missing? What have I overdone? Am I being too optimistic with income? How much will it cost to survive the first year? Can we make it through the first year?

Up next this week is continued work with the business plan. I am hoping to get it finished except for the food and drink menus. Then we will put our project list together and start looking at each. I am amazed how easy it is to get stuck down a rabbit hole. We have to learn how to best manage our time and decision making to be as efficient as we can. Until next time….