Nancy Forster | Bird and Bear Grill
Tell us about your business and why you chose that particular business path?
We are a small owner-operated restaurant located near South State Park. We are set up more like a cafe in terms of the size of our menu and the setup of the restaurant. We chose this particular model due to the fact that we also carry fresh doughnuts and pastries each morning, and we have quite a large carry-out clientele. We wanted to make a restaurant that served not only the tourists, but the local population, including the businesses in our immediate area, contractors, construction workers and Roscommon's retired community. Our objective was to create an atmosphere that encouraged community, and provided good food, fast.
How is your business going so far in comparison to your projections or goals?
Business this summer has been beyond what we ever expected or anticipated. We were pleasantly surprised by the acceptance from the community, as well as the positive feedback we have received.
Most people are hesitant to start a business in rural areas, is/was that a concern for you?
Honestly, no. We saw an incredible location with the proximity to 1-75 and South State Park, a newly renovated building, and decided that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We had previously had a few discussions about opening a small diner "up north," but never truly thought it would become a reality. When this opportunity presented itself, we knew we would be foolish to turn it down.
How were you referred to the Sawmill Rural Business Center?
We were referred to the Sawmill through Barefoot Gardens, who are our local produce providers. Once we met Diane, we found an array of classes and services available to us, including the ServSafe Manager course, which we both took.
What was your experience like working with the Sawmill?
Our experience has been nothing but positive. Diane has been a great source of information, and consistently checks in with us to see if we are in need of anything. We are excited to take advantage of some of the classes offered this winter.
What are you short and long term business plans?
Our short term goals are to begin including more catering throughout the winter, as well as open a few nights a month for dinners, euchre night, game night, etc. We truly want to provide a place for the community to gather during those long winter months. Our long term goals are to utilize the additional space we have to create a retail section that sells only Michigan made products, as well as open a small coffee bar in that space.
What advice do you have for those that might be considering starting a business in Roscommon County or other rural areas?
Our biggest piece of advice is location, location, location! Finding a place that will draw tourists in the summer and locals in the winter is incredibly important. In addition, we feel that doing something a little different than the norm is important as well. We wanted a place that stood out in terms of service, food and decor. We did not want to fall into the same pattern that many restaurants follow. Find something that makes you unique and sets you apart.