Bartender quits job to start her own beverage business
Running her own company, she figured, would let her could keep more of the money she made — and give her more flexibility to set her own hours.
Earlier this year, Kathy Sullivan – a Birmingham mother of three — made a decision to quit her job as a bartender and go to work for herself doing the same job — and more.
“When I was working at my last bar tending position, it hit me: People need a beverage catering service, in part, because my regulars would ask me to work their private parties,” the 41-year-old said. “It is a risk to work for yourself. That’s why I waited to get busy before I quit my other job.”
Running her own company, she also figured, would let her could keep more of the money she made — and give her more flexibility to set her own hours.
“Being a mom,” Sullivan said, “I don’t just want to go to my kids’ classroom for their Halloween party.”
While bar tending, she started catering events part-time and setting up her own company, which she aptly named Sidecar Bartending. Then, before going full-time, she promised her husband that whatever income she would be giving up from her bar tending job, she’d make up for — and a little more — with her new venture.
Q: What is your business?
A: It’s a boutique beverage catering business. Basically, we’ll do everything but the food. We’ll meet with the client, discuss the party their having, we’ll help them come up with what alcohol they want to serve. We can do all the liquor ordering, and order all the glassware. We have a bar we can bring to the party. We also supply the bartenders and servers if they need it.
Q: Right now, you’re the only employee?
A: I am. I do all the event planning, booking, and I bar tend the parties. I like to bartend because it’s a new business and customer service is the biggest thing I focus on. I try to go to all the parties to make sure the service is there, but I have seasoned bartenders I send, too.
Q: What’s your revenue like?
A: I’m hesitant to give you a number because it’s a new business. I would say my goal is to make more than I made in the restaurant business with the bonus of working for myself, about $5,000 month. Based on how things have been going, I think that’s achievable. Next year, I expect to double that.
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to start their own company?
A: Don’t feel like you need to start at the top. It’s OK to begin at an entry-level position and work your way up as you go. You are learning as you go. I think it will pay off. You will have more knowledge about all aspects of the business. For bartending, it’s OK to get a job at a restaurant as a busboy, become a server, bar-back, work up as manager. In all those positions, you learn something to start your own business. Whatever job you have, make sure you’re learning from it. I will help in the long run.
Q: Are more people going into business for themselves these days?
A: I don’t know. Starting this business was a lot more work than I thought: Getting a website, name, logo, insurance, opening a bank account. People have a lot of good ideas, but going into business is more difficult than they think.
Q: Did you have any other moments of inspiration to start your own business?
A: I love bartending. I love the customer service aspect of it. Talking to people, being social. I’m really organized. It’s a job I loved doing, and I’m good at it.
Q: But, you’re not just bar tending, now. You have much more responsibility. You have to keep the books, hire people, market the enterprise — and come up with business strategies. It’s more involved than making drinks for people and listening to their sad stories, isn’t it?
A: Oh yes. It’s something I’ve been working on for a year.
Q: Business is a risk, too. What if it doesn’t work out?
A: If it doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to working as a bartender — or get another job. I’m not afraid.
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Family: Husband, Matt; three children, Katie, 11; Louie, 9; Sophie, 8
Education: Wayne State University, bachelor’s degree
Experience: About 20 years bartending
Hobbies: Marathons, soccer, reading
Car: 2012 Chrysler Town & Country minivan
Signature drink: Old Fashioned