The Jacksonville Onslow Economic Development Partnership Community Business Loan Fund is pleased to introduce Clove Hitch Beer Company owners Kevin Ryan and wife Haley Leo, recipients of a JOEDP Community Business Loan, according to a newsletter from JOED.
Located at 622 Court Street in Jacksonville, the grand opening is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 15 at 5 p.m.
Ryan and Leo grew up in Hudson Valley, NY. Because the food and beverage industry in that area is heavily influenced by its proximity to the International Culinary Institute, there are many unique bistros, cafes, microbreweries and high-end restaurants. While working in the food and beverage industry, both became enamored with the sense of community among the food and beverage entrepreneurs. They intend to replicate that magic in their 622 Court Street location in Jacksonville.
They credit fellow entrepreneurs Lori and Martin Aragona, owners of Biagio’s, with months of support and advice in making this dream a reality. The Salty Turtle Beer Company in Surf City was also a great business mentor, always making time for questions.
The JOED newsletter said it seems that folks devoted to a local entrepreneurial community operate less from a calendar and more from a place of vision and passion. Haley and Kevin relied on friends to design and decorate shelves, repurpose old building elements and construct a custom designed, beautiful new wood bar.
Kevin is an explosive ordnance technician (for the next two years), and Haley teaches preschool aboard Camp Lejeune. Although both currently work full time, Haley and/or Kevin will be on-site in support of their employees during business hours: Monday-Thursday: 4:30 p.m. — 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. — 10 p.m. and Sunday: 11 a.m. — 7 p.m.
Like other young entrepreneurs, they reach into their community for feedback and assistance. Intent on making this venue a comfortable fit in the downtown area, they surveyed Facebook and Instagram followers for non-alcoholic beverage suggestions to include on their menu, which features North Carolina brewed craft beers.
Haley explained their vision for the venue, “We understand that we are operating under very privileged circumstances, and we are very grateful for this opportunity. One of our main priorities is working with and respecting the city’s vision for the downtown area, as we believe we share the same values and expectations for our community.”
Because gathering startup capital can be challenging, they employed Kickstarter. Through this platform, their supporters purchased Clove Hitch Beer Company merchandise to generate startup capital. They were able to reach their Kickstarter goal but fell a bit short of meeting their total capital needs. They learned about the Community Business Loan Fund from CBLF Committee Chairman Scott Riggs, who provides financial counseling through the local Small Business Center and submitted an application that was approved by the CBLF Committee.
Mr. Riggs commented on the value of the CBLF, “By providing gap financing to both startup and existing businesses, we are opening doors that will lead to greater opportunity of success for local small businesses, while strengthening the fabric of our community.”
Last November, the Truist Foundation provided a substantial grant to JOED Partnership for the Community Business Loan Fund (CBLF), with a focus on women and minority owned businesses. JOEDP began accepting loan applications in June 2023. Two businesses have received loans, and another application is nearing completion.