Success Story: Bull Run Tap House

One year into owning the Bull Run Tap House, Braden Klinger is thrilled with how business is growing.

Sales have increased by almost 30 percent. They’ve grown from 23 employees to almost 40.

And, they’re working to expand their menu. While burgers and sandwiches are their current best features, they’re looking to add more salads, steaks, seafood, and pasta.

The additions that will make it to the menu must pass the litmus test of fitting into their menu and environment, represents them well, expedient and efficient execution – and positive guest feedback.

“We’ve played around with different specials over the past few months, and if they pass that test, they’ll make the menu,” Klinger said.

After 30 years in the restaurant business, he believes in some key approaches to make it successful.

“You need to have a fresh food product that is value driven in a friendly, knowledgeable, and clean environment,” he said. “Our food is something we can hang our hat on. Plus, our location in the heart of downtown Lewisburg at 605 Market St. is great.”

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) and Citizens & Northern Bank of Williamsport are proud partners of the project, helping Klinger to purchase the restaurant. SEDA-COG provided a $360,500 Small Business Administration 504 loan and a $77,250 TEAM loan to support the project.

SEDA-COG’s loans and assistance empowered Klinger to structure the financing how he wanted it, and gave him low interest rates.

“Having the SBA 504 loan commitment early on put me in the driver’s seat so I could pick other financing that would fit me the best without looking for outside investors. It helped me maintain control of the process and my business,” Klinger said. “And with the bank in the first seat and SEDA-COG in the second seat (subordinate position), it put the bank in a more advantageous spot, so they’re more likely to invest in a high-risk venture with a restaurant.”

As a first-time business owner, SEDA-COG’s Business Finance staff and his banker helped him work through “all the sticky wickets of the ownership piece of it,” he said.

“They made me take a hard look at my projections and profit to see if they made sense from a sales and bottom-line perspective. They challenged me to make sure my numbers were realistic. I actually renegotiated the price with the seller three times as a result.

“Long term, they set me up for success. And as we’re getting to complete our first trip around the sun, as I call it, we’re okay,” Klinger said.

Halle Niklaus, commercial loan sales officer of Citizen & Northern, said SBA 504 loans help entrepreneurs reach their goals.

“I teamed up with SEDA-COG to create a financing package effectively mitigating the risk associated with the financing and reducing the cash injection required of the borrower. SEDA-COG’s senior relationship manager, John Reichard, is professional and very knowledgeable, employing a desire to customize and create an effective financing package. Due to the expertise of John and the staff at SEDA-COG, my borrower was able to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams,” Niklaus said.

Klinger is a Julian native who graduated in 1987 from Penn State University with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management. Klinger’s three decades of experience in the restaurant business includes overseeing eight restaurants for New England Restaurant Corporation, being district manager and then joint venture partner with Panera Bread, the area director for Ovation Brands for seven locations, and most recently, the director of operations, personnel and training for JDK Management Co. at three locations.

Finally, Klinger decided it was time to “put my money where my mouth was and do it myself.”

Owning the Bull Run Tap House is “extremely personal” to him and he’s enjoying every day. “But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have all those stops along the way. I learned something from each,” he said.

His favorite part is the same as it’s been from day one: variety. “I get to wear a million different hats throughout the course of my day, from business owner to marketing, coaching team members, and helping guide them through life. There’s no routine and there’s constant stimuli to keep you engaged,” Klinger said.

Klinger plans to focus on this location and do it well. They also cater with a menu tailored for the event.

With over 60 years of combined experience working with the SBA 504 loan program, SEDA-COG offers the experience and knowledge to help businesses start and grow. SEDA-COG believes in the future of Pennsylvania’s communities by investing in its businesses and partnering with lenders.

SEDA-COG’s Business Finance staff can help find the loan that’s right for you. Contact us today to start a partnership at 570-524-4491 or finance@seda-cog.org.