What drives a couple to open a tavern?
Sometimes, a truck.
And why would they name it Bullwinkle’s?
“My dad had a 1952 Chevy truck. He had it almost his entire life, and he called it Bullwinkle, ”Heather Taylor explains. “Some of his inheritance helped me open this bar.”
Taylor’s mother, Carol, sold family land when her husband died and used a portion of the proceeds to support their daughter’s dream of owning her own business.
Surprisingly, the name Bullwinkle was also meaningful to Taylor’s partner and boyfriend – a lifelong fan of the animated, talking moose from the television cartoon featuring Bullwinkle and Rocky, the flying squirrel.
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“It made perfect sense that we name it Bullwinkle’s Tavern,” says Morgan Holzman, co-owner and co-creator of the bar, which will be in the space formerly occupied by Five Forks Brewery, 2613 Woodruff Road in Simpsonville.
Five Forks Brewery, which opened a year ago, closed in December when Taylor and Holzman made the owner an offer.
“It was a very easy conversation,” says Taylor, who was managing the brewery at the time.
This is Taylor’s and Holzman’s first business of their own. They hope to open in early April.
“We’ve both, separately, been in the industry for so long. When we got together, it just made sense that we look for a place to open, ”Taylor says.
The couple won’t have partners.
“It’s just the two of us. We only have to answer to each other, and that was what we wanted. We’re ready to make our own mistakes and successes, ”Holzman says.
“It’s going to be ours from top to bottom, and we will put our hands on everything that is here.”
Their deal for the 3,000-square-foot space did not include the brewing equipment. But Bullwinkle’s Tavern will have four 75-inch televisions to appeal to sports fans, a stage for bands on weekends, and a roll-up metal door for service, music and movies outside.
The pair wants to foster a community atmosphere. A nearby baseball field drew families to Five Forks Brewing. The new owners want parents to be comfortable bringing their kids after games.
“The adults can have drinks and food, and the kids can run around outside. We’ll have horseshoes and corn hole and ladder ball, ”Holzman says.
The property boasts 9,000 square feet of fenced outdoor space.
The couple is working on renovations – with professionals – choosing everything from artwork to furniture. The 29-foot bar top is locally harvested poplar.
“It’s exciting, fun. We’ve gone to so many places to look at equipment, glassware. We are picking everything from scratch, building on our idea, ”Taylor says. “We started with the small picture. Now, we’re looking at the big picture. It’s amazing. “
Meanwhile, they’ve sourced signature foods – pulled pork and pulled chicken from Bearded Brothers Barbecue in Spartanburg and wild-game sausages that will come through a company that specializes in sustainable alternatives to traditional meats.
Nachos and salads will also be part of a menu – “easy-to-eat, upscale, tasty bar food for a good price,” Holzman explains.
The bar will feature 20 craft beers on tap and specialty bourbons and tequilas.
Top-notch spirits are sometimes difficult to get, Holzman says. “It’s a matter of finding the right contacts who have something in stock.”
Taylor says she’ll focus on classics like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans and create original concoctions with specialty bitters and tonics shipped from Florida.
The house special, The Bullwinkle, will be a tequila drink.
Holzman says he hopes the bar will be a place where people gather for casual or more sophisticated evenings.
“We’ll be a family-friendly sports bar where you can get a good cocktail and something to eat. It doesn’t have to be a Friday night out. You can stop in on a Monday or Tuesday and get a drink or a beer and a hot dog, ”he says. “Then, you can get all dressed up on Friday and come in for a $ 50 bourbon.”
The bar won’t be a late-night spot, though.
“We’re not going to close any later than 11 pm or midnight,” Holzman says. “We’ve noticed that, around here, by 10 pm, most people are ready to go home.”
Both plan to be on the premises.
“We are not going to be absentee owners,” Holzman says. “We’re going to be working. We will be here daily. “
Even so, Taylor explains that balance is important to them.
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“We both have families, separately,” she says. “We don’t want the bar to completely take over. Hopefully, my son will be working in the kitchen. He’s old enough, and he’s excited. But we will have quality family time, too. “
Taylor and Holzman have each lived and worked in the area for about 15 years. And they’re excited about building new relationships and growing old ones.
“I can’t express how much I enjoy going out and seeing people who ask when we’re going to be open. They can’t wait to see us. That, to me, is the exciting part, ”Taylor says.
“We’ve both built … I call them friendships because that’s what they are for us… with customers over the years,” Holzman says. “They’re waiting for things to happen. We’re excited to put our best foot forward for them. “
As for Bullwinkle, the truck? Bullwinkle is with Taylor’s mother in Duncan, waiting to be restored.
In the meantime, the truck is front and center on the bar’s custom-made logo and sign.
“We asked for something that embodied the two of us,” says Holzman, who is depicted with his trademark beard and colorful shirt. Heather is drawn pin-up-style, complete with “cat ears, smiling eyes and her red locks.”
“And, of course, there is Bullwinkle with me driving and Heather perched on the hood.”