Marci Baker had a dream that almost turned into a nightmare when she opened her Lincoln City bar and restaurant, Marci’s Bar & Bistro, in early 2018.
“I’d been open not even six months and everything was chaotic,” said the first-time business owner. “Dave Price of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) reached out to me when they had a new Small Business Management Program starting – and my initial reaction was, ‘I don’t have time for even one other thing.’ But, I decided to join anyway, and I’m so glad I did.”
Marci not only successfully completed the Small Business Management program; Marci’s Bar & Bistro was the recipient of this year’s SBM Business of the Year award.
Starting from scratch
Marci worked for two years at the Nauti Mermaid, a business previously located in the very same building her business occupies today.
“People think I bought that business, but I only took over the lease,” she said. “This was basically an open shell; I painted every wall, put up a new bar back and tap box, new table tops, I even changed the top of the main bar.”
The main bar top, which Marci inherited, spelled out “Nauti Mermaid” in pennies, but she’s not one to shirk work or waste anything if it can be avoided.
“I broke up the lacquer and then stayed all night and got those pennies clean and reused them,” she said. “Overall, I spent just under three months remodeling, but I had a vision of what I wanted this to look like and was willing to do what it took to make it happen.”
That work ethic is part of what won her the SBM’s Business of the Year award.
“Marci achieved most of the goals she set out to at the first of the year,” said SBM coordinator Misty Lambrecht.
“In fact,” she added, “Marci was our only student ever to attempt taking a class on Memorial Day, which we teased her about.”
An affinity for education is another thing that sealed the deal when Marci was considering joining the SBM program.
“I love learning, I love structure, and I love tests,” she said. “I thrive in that environment. There’s a difference between knowing what you should do and having the discipline to do it; being a part of the program helped me so much with that. It also gave me room to breathe: I’m so glad I decided to set aside the time to get away from my business, meet other business owners, and make new friendships with people having similar struggles.”
Keeping it local
After graduating from college with a degree in Anthropology, the 30-year-old daughter of retired North Lincoln Fire & Rescue Chief Don Baker, was happy to return to the town she had lived in since she was seven.
“Part of why I came back after college was that I had received local Rotary and Kiwanis scholarships. At one of the meetings when we were being given our awards, a club member stood up and said, ‘Every year we work hard to be able to give these scholarships and we just want one of you to came back,’ and that meant a lot to me.”
Marci is a stellar example of what people can accomplish by taking advantage of the financial incentives available for motivated people. Her participation in the SBDC program was underwritten by a grant from of the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Economic Development Grant Program.
Cheerful & comfortable
Being a positive part of a community that means a lot to her was one of the real motivating forces that drove Marci to open the business.
“There are a lot of bars in Lincoln City, but we were missing a cheerful, comfortable bar – and I wanted people to have that option. We hear all the time now that Marci’s is the most comfortable bar in Lincoln City. We’ve got a great staff and great customers.”
She also wanted to make good food part of the plan.
“I’ve put out four menus so far, and I’m ready to put out another one,” she said. “I’ve built it gradually to have as many options as possible.”
Her SBM instructor, in fact, is a fan of the food: “The bistro serves an awesome broccoli salad,” Lambrecht said.
All in the family
Prior to enrolling in the SBM Program, Marci knew about the SBDC and had taken advantage of some of their resources, but didn’t realize how much they continue to support their graduates, like helping them to stay updated on tax laws, which seem to change with every passing year.
“Even after the classes are over, you can always come back,” she said. “Once you’re in, you’re part of a family, and they don’t let you go.”
Now, she says, she can spend more time focusing on the fun part; providing entertainment in her town.
“Fridays we have Karaoke, we have live music on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. On Sundays, we have open mike and Tuesdays are for trivia,” she said.
“But you can come in anytime for Buzztime trivia- we’re the only place in Lincoln City that has it. It’s great for people that are hard of hearing, can’t come on Tuesdays or just prefer to play with strangers.”
For more information about what’s happening at Marci’s, including the current menu, go to marcisbar.com.
Though “busy” only begins to describe Marci Baker’s life now, it has settled into a good rhythm.
“If someone told me I was going to own a bar in Lincoln City someday, I would have laughed,” Marci said.
“But I absolutely love it. The chaos is gone. We got through that first year, and now I’m so ready for this summer.”
Marci’s Bar & Bistro is located at 1343 NW Hwy. 101 in Lincoln City. Reach them by phone at 541-418-5473.