Local entrepreneur takes over Indian Lake bar
DOWAGIAC — Berrien Springs’ Becky Bennett is no stranger to branching out and trying something new.
A confessed “serial entrepreneur,” Bennett has spent the past 20 years being her own boss, launching her first business, Entrepreneur Success Inc., in 1997, followed a few years later by a second venture, Royalties Inc.
She and her staff with the two firms have worked with hundreds of businesses over the decades, helping launch transportation startups and monitor the finances of franchised restaurants across the U.S.
For her next big move, though, she is sticking to something a little closer to home — and heart.
Last month, Bennett took over ownership of the former Irish Spartan Sports Bar, located near the shores of Indian Lake outside Dowagiac. The business owner has spent the past several weeks turning the local watering hole into a family-friendly pub, which she has aptly rechristened as Indian Lake Pub.
With only a few construction tasks and several regulatory inspections left to cross off her list, the Berrien Springs woman said she expects to officially open the doors of the establishment, located at 55986 Indian Lake Road, to customers sometime next week.
Though she has lived a good portion of her life outside Atlanta, the Dowagiac-Eau Claire area is where Bennett originally called home. She grew up on Brush Lake, located just a short distance away from Indian Lake, and graduated from Eau Claire High School.
The local pub has always been a part of her life, as her father, Jerry — who died 10 years ago — used to frequent the business, she said.
“This was my dad’s favorite place to stop by and grab a beer after work,” Bennett said. “He would be tickled pink to learn that I’ve bought the place. I’m doing this in part to honor his memory.”
Bennett said she has been a take charge kind of person since she was young, and would frequently do things like organize yard sales, she said. So, after graduating high school, she decided to study business administration and accounting at Mercer University in Georgia, where she graduated in 1989, she said.
After spending many years working with a company called Alpha Products in Atlanta, she decided to branch out and start her own business, Entrepreneur Success Inc., in 1997. She continues to own and operate the business, along with Royalties Inc., managing both businesses through cloud-based internet services after moving back to Michigan four years ago, she said.
Having conquered two industries, Bennett said she was looking for something fun and different to try her hand at — and, after finding out that her father’s favorite pub was available for sale over the summer, decided that she had found just the right new project to tackle.
Bennett closed on a deal to acquire the pub on Nov. 23, and has worked ever since to renovate the former sports bar to match her vision of a friendly, welcoming pub, with great food and brew, she said.
“We want the business to go from being just a bar to a restaurant with a bar,” Bennett said.
Working alongside her kitchen manager, Chris Baggs, Bennett has devised a menu that she said is sure to please visitors. In addition to pub standbys like half-pound burgers and house made pizzas, the kitchen will offer dishes like roasted chicken and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, Bennett said. She also plans on having regular lunch and dinner specials, including Friday fish fries and prime rib roasts on Saturdays.
As for beverages, Bennett said that the bar will have eight brews on tap, including Budweiser, Miller Light, Kölsch and her personal favorite beer, Blue Moon. The staff will have plenty more bottled beers on hand in the fridge, and customers will be free to recommend their favorite beers for the business to purchase in the future, Bennett said.
Since renovations have gotten underway, Bennett said she and others with the pub have had a seemingly nonstop stream of locals coming by to see their progress. Word has spread about the business’ impending opening amongst the lakeside residents and nearby farmers, she said.
“The Indian Lake and Eau Claire communities have been really supportive, and are excited about us opening,” she said.
The Indian Lake Pub will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. For more information about the business, people may call (269) 782-3151.
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