In August 2017, our bankers Alisha and Jason sat down for a coffee with Joe Giammanco at a Kansas City diner. Joe explained that him and his friend, James Stutsman, had dreams to open a brewery together. They knew they would need funding, a great brewer, and a solid business plan.
“Funding was definitely our biggest challenge, initially. We went to other banks in the area, and they didn’t want to look at us,” Joe said. “We would submit financials and our business plan, but we wouldn’t get any traction from it, nor would they allow us to explain what we were doing, why we were different, and how this business would change the brewing culture in Kansas City. Bank Midwest was the only bank that sat down with us and worked through the whole process.”
As the plan progressed, Alisha and Jason were impressed by the owners’ knowledge of the industry and the budding business’s mission- Love Your City. This aligned with Bank Midwest’s community focus. Alisha and Joe had initially met at a city networking event.
“This is the type of tourism and attraction that we want to see locally,” said Alisha. “These are the type of business owners that are actively involved that we love to see. I’m so glad that myself and Jason could be a part of their growth and bring this to Kansas City.”
This was a unique relationship, as Bank Midwest was brought in during the creative process of starting the business. Alisha and Jason not only helped with City Barrel’s business plan, but they were trusted to turn City Barrel in different directions and provide additional resources. Joe, James, and their third partner, Grant Waner, brought the passion and industry expertise to make it happen. This allowed for an honest dialogue and team strategy that eventually led to City Barrel’s grand opening earlier this year, with the help of funding, business advice, and lending including an SBA loan.
“They helped us change our financials and remodel our business,” Joe said. “You have one chance for everything. You get one option, so for us Bank Midwest was key for that.”
Part of this was due to Alisha and Jason’s wholistic approach, a signature of Bank Midwest’s relationship-focused banking style. Our bankers don’t just focus on the nitty-gritty financial pieces, but instead see the entirety of the business.
“I want to work with you,” said Jason when describing relationship banking. “I want to be able to help you on all sides, and if I can’t, I have a teammate or partner who can. Every relationship should be open dialogue and especially with your banker when you are starting a business.
Today, City Barrel is located in the revived East Crossroads area of Kansas City, serving unique brews and locally-inspired gourmet bar food. The building boasts tall ceilings, exposed brick, and natural wood, and business is booming. Alisha, Jason, and Bank Midwest are proud to have been a part of City Barrel’s success, from its early stages as an idea shared in a diner to its proud placement as a downtown destination. We’re proud to contribute to City Barrel’s success, and to watch what it has contributed to Kansas City’s brewing culture and downtown entertainment scene.