Behind the newest “elevated” bar in downtown Greenville > GSA Business

For Julia Belcher and Jennifer Lion, their dream was to open a bar, but they didn’t know they had already achieved it.

Both moved to Greenville more than a decade ago and fell in love with the city. So much so that they ended up opening People’s Tap, a tribute to Greenville’s thriving restaurant scene.

The People’s Tap concept was conceived in 2019 after years of planning, hurdles, successes, redesigns and research on beer. Now, the taproom at 250 Riverplace, Suite B in the RiverPlace development in downtown Greenville is officially open.

People’s Tap Partner and Managing Director Belcher and Partner Lion had been friends for about nine years when they met in Greenville. The pair, both Ohio State alumni, enjoyed visiting breweries and hiking together, but their friendship centered around Greenville’s burgeoning food and beverage industry, Belcher said. They even took on hospitality positions en route to People’s Tap.

“Over time, we thought, wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own place?” Belcher said. “It took a while to get started, but now we’re in an incredible position, even though we weren’t originally looking for a downtown location.”

Pandemic creates problems

But then — like any new business starting during the COVID-19 pandemic — there were some challenges.

The pair had considered opening water chambers on the outskirts of the city boundary, more like a community location, such as the Overbrook area, and hadn’t considered a city center earlier in the process.

For their first potential location, virtual zone meetings — a consequence of the pandemic — created some uncertainty in the planning process.

“When we did this, we thought everything was fine and didn’t really understand the persistence of the process, but as the pandemic dragged on and the frustration with the process grew over time, we were also Working remotely full-time and wondering what we’re going to do next? Belcher said.

Belcher said they’ve seen how the pandemic has impacted other businesses, as well as the amazingness and creativity of the Greenville community.

“We’ve had to figure out how to deal with this situation, seeing breweries try different things, and doing our best to move away from paper menus in order to be sustainable,” she added. “Two years ago, scanning QR codes was not Common, everyone knows what to do now. The pandemic has really changed the food and beverage industry, and we’ve incorporated that into our business.”

check all boxes

Belcher said they had been working with the same realtor for years, and he pushed them to look at a place overlooking the Reedy River downtown.

Julia Belcher (left) and business partner Jennifer Lion recently opened People's Tap after forming a friendship over their love of Greenville and its dining scene.  (Photo/Julia Belcher)“We fell in love with the space as soon as we walked in,” she adds. “It just checked all the boxes on our wish list, and the stars aligned.”

The partners wanted a traditional taproom feel that would be upped, Belcher said. For example, the floors are concrete and there are original, intricate millwork features, along with a marble bar and modern fusion design.

“We wanted to cater to a diverse clientele and make everyone feel comfortable in the space, with windows that allow for plenty of natural light and overlook the river, bringing the natural outdoors into the bar,” says Belcher.

Bartron Builders and architectural firm Fathom Firm are architectural and design partners.

Belcher said construction took about four months to complete after it started, so this was the smoother part of the process.

customer first

When asked what products People’s Tap offers set them apart from similar businesses, Belcher said customer engagement plays a critical role in what they do.

They have an interactive menu that allows customers to leave direct feedback on their likes and dislikes in their inbox.

“We let customers set the stage, put us aside and talk about their experiences,” Belcher said.

She added that since the site is right on the Reed River and has easy access to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, they also wanted to add bike racks to the front of the building.

“While we specialize in craft beers, we also try to showcase regional and local beers because we have an amazing beer community here in Greenville,” Belcher said.

They also serve international beers and have a tap dedicated to “People’s Tap” that spins different macros such as Michelob Ultra and Bud Light. If beer isn’t your thing, they also have a selection of wines, ciders and sodas.

And, with Papi’s Tacos and The Lazy Goat located near Peoples Tap, patrons can have their food delivered to the restaurant, but are welcome to bring their own.

Follow the community

While People’s Tap draws many locals, Belcher and Lion also feel they are part of an effort to breathe life into the space and area, a concept that caters to tourists while being close to hotels, the Peace Center and other soon-to-open venues, Belcher said. Toru said.

“I think what we’re bringing is a great way for visitors to get a sample of Greenville because it’s so close to the river and showcases a lot of our local beers,” she added. “We’re also all community-focused.”

Belcher works in nonprofits, while Lion works in zoology. “We want to support the Greenway and other parks in the area and involve the whole community around us who have shown so much support.”

In addition to the community support, Belcher said, they have been contacted by other female entrepreneurs who congratulate them on their openings while also offering their support.

“As news outlets spread, we’re excited that people want to hear our story,” Belcher said. “This project had been in the works for years, and we were worried about people showing up and how it would translate in the community, but Greenville really showed up and we were running at full capacity for most of opening day.

“We’ve been told it’s warm and inviting, from the training of the staff to the space itself. Our clients feel comfortable here and that’s what we want, to make everyone feel invited.”

Contact Krys at 864-640-4418.

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