TAMPA, Florida – A popular neighborhood bar in South Tampa was suspended during the pandemic, leaving no clear future for diners and staff. Then one of them decided to buy it.
For the past three years, Katie Haggerty has poured cold beers and stiff drinks as a bartender at the Bel Mar Saloon.
“This neighborhood is amazing, it would break our hearts if this place closed. We actually met here,” said Haggerty, referring to her friend and bar regular Daniel Foltz.
So Haggerty and Foltz put their hearts and finances on the line and bought the limo in September.
“I think everyone was pretty shocked, but it was nothing but excitement, always positive, nobody said,” What do you think? “Said Haggerty.
They said their first job was to keep the status quo.
“The previous owners and management instilled everything I know today and I can’t thank them enough,” said Haggerty.
“It is important for both of us to see how we take it over and then continue what he has built,” said Foltz.
Not only did they keep old employees, but they also added some new ones. Not an easy task during a pandemic.
“Some people’s livelihoods were destroyed afterwards and to see that this bar could stay open, that they could save it is just a good feeling for everyone involved,” said bartender Lauren Rogers.
Haggerty said she was never too concerned about risk because she already had one of the most important elements of running a successful business.
“Loyalty is the key word for this, we have people every day, they love the staff, they love us,” said Haggerty. “I’m pretty sure some people will be invited to our wedding and maybe Christmas this year. They’re family, they’re friends. It’s crazy how it turned out.”