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Making it Happen: Small Business Success Story with the Beer Belly Deli

Beer Belly Deli is a comfortable and inviting neighborhood pub that has brought a vacant Westcott Street storefront back to life. The tables run all along one wall from front to back. Towards the back there’s a bar where patrons and staff share a warm camaraderie, and in the warmer months they have a back patio.

The bar-back separates the dining room from the tiny kitchen, where magic happens. Lauren says Beer Belly started out, less than a year and half ago, with a menu of just five sandwiches. Co-owner and chef Brandon Roe now cooks up an evolving menu of appetizers, soups, sandwiches and entrees, while Lauren handles the business end.

Lauren spent five years looking for just this spot. She earned her law degree in 2007 and has been in practice since, but she had known for years that what she really wanted was to create the Beer Belly Deli – a name she first dreamed up back in her teenage years.

Lauren and Brandon needed money for the renovations to the space, but they experienced the same frustration so many small businesses have when approaching big banks, especially for a start-up loan. Lauren remembers that several banks “just laughed at us.” She didn’t know about Cooperative Federal, but when a friend suggested it, she followed up. Our lending manager reviewed their business plan; our CEO did a site visit; and a few weeks later, they had their approval.

Finally, in autumn 2012, the business opened its doors. Lauren cautiously and optimistically describes their success as “so far, so good.” The first time college students left on vacation, the drop in business was a shock, but they weathered it. They also made it through the infamous summer of construction that challenged all the businesses on Westcott Street.

Now, anyone in the neighborhood can tell you that Lauren and Brandon’s restaurant has become a favorite spot. The dining room bustles all weekend, and the bar already has a gaggle of regulars.

Lauren laughs now when she thinks about how, before starting the business, she didn’t know about our credit union – not only because of the start-up loan, but because of the number of Coop Fed VISA cards they swipe through their till every day. It’s good to be partners in building a local economy.