Make It a Double: San Francisco Bar Runs Two Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns!
Updated: Apr 19
The community pub: we’ve all been to one, or wish we’ve been. Warm and homey, it’s a place to knock back a few pints with your friends or connect with your neighbors. Some nights you might see someone up posing on the bar, getting rowdy, while other times you might have a nice leisurely drink out on the patio when the weather is warm.
The Valley Tavern is such a place, located in the Noe Valley of San Francisco. Declan Hogan, the second-generation owner of the Valley Tavern, has made it his mission to keep this pub at the heart of his community. However, the pandemic threatened its very survival.
Declan ran not one, but two very successful Honeycomb campaigns, raising a total of $89,000, the first to raise funds to support the bar through San Francisco’s pandemic lockdowns, and the second to achieve his long-term goal of adding a kitchen to the Valley Tavern.
A born barkeep
Declan’s father, Vince Hogan, was already an established bar owner when in 2003 he bought Valley Tavern, his seventh bar in San Francisco. Vince came to the United States from Ireland with only $500, and to his son, he’s the epitome of the American Dream.
Declan began working at the Valley Tavern the minute he turned 21, became the general manager in 2010, and officially took over in 2016 when his dad retired.
He prides himself on Valley Tavern’s customer service and efficiency and is always striving to add personal touches where he can in order to make the pub a special place for his customers.
Since then, he’s kept the business on track by providing friendly service and a fun environment for all, and Valley Tavern has become a community hub and was celebrated by San Francisco Magazine as one of the city’s best patios.
A true local community pub
Valley Tavern is a rarity these days, especially in a large city such as San Francisco - a pub that has a real community behind it. Its atmosphere makes it a perfect place for community gatherings of all kinds, from fundraisers to back-to-school nights. As Declan says, it’s “the only bar in the city where you can comfortably host both a retirement party and a 21st birthday.”
Declan’s customers have stood strong next to Valley Tavern time and time again. They came together to help the bar get permission from the city to build the beer garden, and then again to help Valley Tavern get a Live Music Performance permit.
“The personal relationships we’ve built with each customer have created a strong sense of community,” says Declan. “The Valley Tavern has become everyone’s home away from home.”
So, it certainly comes as no surprise that the community came together once again for Declan’s Honeycomb campaigns!
Crowdfunding, Now Make It a Double
The first campaign was essential to stay afloat during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of its community, Valley Tavern was able to raise $49,000 from 34 investors to pay off past-due bills, restock their inventory, and go towards working capital while adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions.
Rather than accepting donations, Declan saw this Honeycomb campaign as a way to deepen his relationship with his customers and give his neighbors an opportunity to invest in his business.
“Offers of help from our community had been pouring in,” said Declan, “And finally [because of the Honeycomb campaign] I would accept it.”
Immediately after the success of the first campaign, Declan saw the opportunity to help fund something that’s always been a longtime goal of his - adding a kitchen to the Valley Tavern. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the kitchen became all the more important to Valley Tavern’s plan to weather the storm, as pandemic restrictions required bars to serve food in order to operate.
The second campaign raised $40,000, which went towards building out the kitchen.
“It’s reminded me of how important our customers are to our operation, and how important the Valley Tavern is to our customers,” said Declan. And certainly, his community showed how important this pub is to them, as they put their money into it!
For many small, local bars and restaurants out there, the past year has been a precarious one. Community support becomes all the more valuable in the tough times as they are during the good times. Thankfully for Valley Tavern, the community had this pub’s back.
“Help is out there, you don’t have to look far,” says Declan. “Draw upon the community in which you operate. Chances are your customers care about your survival as well.”
Share your growth with the ones that love you the most
You love your customers and your customers love you. They’ve been there to buy rounds and liven up the place, and you’ve been part of their stories for first dates, birthday parties, and more. Why not have your customers invest in you as you have in them?
Learn more about how Honeycomb strengthens relationships between your business and your customers at www.honeycombcredit.com/grow.