Profitt Report: Secrets to Success, LeBoeuf’s Lounge in Saginaw

Photo credit: Jim Werner / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re in the mood for an adult beverage, where do you go? One Saginaw community doesn’t need to think twice before answering: their neighborhood bar, of course!

It’s last call for many neighborhood bars. Nielsen did a survey a few years ago and found, 609 close every month. However, LeBoeuf’s Lounge in Saginaw has been open for more than 100 years.

“It’s not fancy margaritas and all this, it's just…beer drinkers and talk. The talk,” said William Ronan, who’s been working at LeBoeuf’s for about a decade. “A lot of them who come in here have been around for 20 years plus,” he said.

The community that patrons LeBoeuf’s is what keeps it going according to Ronan and owner Chester Swanton.

“It’s kind of like that bar Cheers, everybody comes in, they know their name and know what they're drinking,” said Swanton.

Everyone certainly knows Swanton’s name: this bar has been in his family for three generations.

“My grandfather started it in 1914 and I’m actually named after him,” he said, “I've been coming over here with my dad ever since I was three-years-old, used to pick up change on the floor.”

The bar has been through a lot in the 103 years it’s been open: prohibition, remodels and a declining city population.

“Here we serve a lot of beer, draft beer, regular beer,” Swanton said, “we used to be in the old days, when my grandfather run it, they did a lot of whiskey, a shot and a snit of beer but it's changed since then. Nobody is doing all that whiskey since the drinking and driving laws.”

Which Swanton said, is the beauty of a neighborhood bar: no need to drive after a drink. Despite that convenience, neighborhood bars are a dying breed.

So we asked Swanton, what’s your advice as an entrepreneur?

“Don’t go over your budget,” he said, “you've gotta have a plan because if you don't have a plan, you'll be sinking money in every month.”

Two taps, simple drinks and the same old, wooden bar where you can sip those drinks. This, and a rich sense of community make up LeBoeuf’s Lounge.

“Family, it's all family,” Ronan said.

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