120 Taphouse & Bistro
Paw Paw, Michigan
Eric Cook was a successful financial planner and loved working with his clients. He became disenchanted though with corporate America and the greed he saw as commonplace – a disconnect between what was best for the customer and pressure to earn more. “I loved the people part of my business but often felt like the companies I worked for cared more about their stock price going up a few cents vs. what was best for their employees and customers,” says Eric. “One afternoon, riding my Harley, I decided to make a change, go for my dreams and open my own restaurant. I envisioned it featuring the recipes I’d served to family and friends for years.”
Opening this past June, the 120 Taphouse & Bistro is off to a remarkable start. It rotates through dozens of craft beers, with new selections daily, hand-selected by Eric. The restaurant also prides itself on using local ingredients and locally-sourced meats. Dishes range from Nancy’s Chicken (named after his aunt), incredible stuffed burgers and pulled pork, to Frankie’s Fries (named after his father, Frank), hand-cut and soaked overnight, and then fried to perfection. Along with Eric’s homemade BBQ sauce, the restaurant is quickly earning a reputation for great food and fun.
Eric first learned of ECCU’s business services through his realtor. “Amelia (Barker-King) referred me to ECCU and explained they could help with the financing. She introduced me to Kenny and Ryan, who, together, approved my SBA loan.” Eric adds that the Michigan SBDC (Small Business Development Center) was a partner as well. “They offered insight and access to mentors including other successful restaurant owners.” With the help of his mentors and ECCU, Eric drafted a business plan that launched his SBA loan.
“ECCU was incredibly warm and friendly to work with,” adds Eric. “They assisted with my loan at every step and gave me access to more resources, such as SBA specialists, Achieve.” Today, he uses the full menu of ECCU’s business services – checking, debit card, and online banking.
“It was also refreshing to work with someone locally,” continues Eric. “ECCU is community-driven. They were willing to take on the SBA loan for me and be a partner. I’m not sure if any of the banks would have done that for me.”
“Our responsibility was to ensure Eric had the funds he needed to obtain the building and property. ” offers Kenny Leonard, VP Commercial Loans for ECCU. “Eric already had a great business plan. As trusted advisors, we were able to develop it further with thought-provoking questions about goals, operations, and long-term financial planning. We were able to provide a generous working capital line and funds for property improvements.”
“It’s amazing, and I love this place, the Taphouse,” concludes Eric. “I can finally say I love what I do.”