LONDON, KY – When opportunity knocks, entrepreneurial-minded folks answer.
At least that’s the case with friends and entrepreneurs Josh Howard, John Gambrel and Jason Gambrel. When they first ventured into the restaurant/pub business in 2018, they had no idea their Irish/British themed pub would expand to three Southeast Kentucky locations by 2021, with a pandemic raging all around them.
It’s a tale of growth and endurance they can share with their grandchildren someday. Until then, they’ll continue to manage, grow and market their investments in their respective hometowns and feed their family, friends and customers some of the best food they have to offer.
The trio opened their first Butcher’s Pub in Pineville, Ky. in 2018. By late 2019, they saw an opportunity to purchase a building in downtown Williamsburg, Ky, and after fully renovating it, they opened their second Butcher’s Pub. When the two initial restaurants were succeeding in early 2020, it was only natural that they consider a third investment in London. That resulted in The Butcher’s Pub in London. It opened in May 2021.
The franchise offers menu items like Irish Nachos, Reuben Egg Rolls and Pub Fish and Chips. The owners promote local performers with live-music events and support local farmers by sourcing fresh meats and vegetables and craft breweries from across the region.
With three restaurants in three different small towns, 30 to 40 miles apart in each direction, the investors rely heavily on their management staff and employees to keep their brand successful. That has proven to be a challenge during the shutdown of 2020 and the continued pandemic restrictions of 2021. Like most small business owners they needed help.
When the owners needed assistance financing the London expansion in 2021, they turned to a lender they had worked with before – Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. (SKED).
SKED helped fund the purchase of other commercial properties for the trio in the past, and they knew they could rely on the 35-year-old nonprofit lender to help them work through the struggles of the pandemic including workforce and supply chain issues.
As a small business that prides itself on investing in our region and its people, we are fortunate to have a lender like SKED that offers financial assistance and opportunities not otherwise afforded by the traditional bank lending process. The staff at SKED are very thorough, efficient and a pleasure to work with.”Josh Howard
“As a small business that prides itself on investing in our region and its people, we are fortunate to have a lender like SKED that offers financial assistance and opportunities not otherwise afforded by the traditional bank lending process,” Josh Howard said. “The staff at SKED are very thorough, efficient and a pleasure to work with.”
SKED Business Loan Officer Karen Minton says working with the regional restaurateurs has been a pleasure.
“We’ve seen first-hand the struggles of small business owners over the past two years,” Minton said. “Anyone looking to expand in this atmosphere is brave, and they are going to need help. I’m glad they came to us for the loan, and I’m glad we could assist.”
SKED used loan funds from its U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Intermediary Relending Program to make the loan.