Customer Testimonial: Brass Tap, Cedar Falls, IA

Brothers James and Walter Burtis knew from the beginning that they wanted to create an environment in downtown Cedar Falls that could draw its own unique crowd for drinks, food, and a good time. With over 200 beers on tap, deliciously appetizing food, and a staff that’s always ready to serve, they’ve certainly accomplished what they set out to do and much, much, much more.


Boasting a strong background in the hospitality industry, James Burtis realized he wanted to create a workplace where he could be alongside his family, while also securing a franchise-backed safety net to ensure their family’s success. After combing through hundreds of potential partners, the two brothers agreed on the young franchisable restaurant chain, Brass Tap. This corporate partner would not only fit their needs but also propel their commercial growth in downtown Cedar Falls. 


“We went through a lot of different franchise options and business options. This one was young enough that we could help modify it while still having the protection and support of a corporate team behind it,” James shared.


When curating the vendors, the staff, and the beers, their primary goal was to ensure everyone was welcome who walked in the door. Both James and Walter wanted to ensure this establishment wasn’t limited by the typical demographics of a specific style of bar and restaurant. Their deepest wish to serve anyone and everyone is apparent through their menu, drink selection, and service throughout the facility. 


"This is your neighborhood bar, this is a place where anyone can come. I don’t care if you’re a farmer or a lawyer, politician, doesn’t matter your income group, doesn’t matter your preferences for drinks or food, we have something for everyone,” James commented further.


Filling their food menu with items such as Tempura Beer-Battered Fried Shrimp, Sweet Heat BBQ Bacon Burger, Korean BBQ Pork Tacos, Angus Sliders, and Baja Chicken Flatbread, means their customers can find their favorite craving for every occasion. Their drink selection is just as varied with beers both locally and internationally, including a number of craft beers from around Iowa.


“Brass Tap has a great atmosphere that accommodates large groups, whether that be for business gatherings or socializing with a group of friends. Their beer selection is fantastic!” commented Spencer Struve, Lincoln Savings Bank IT Specialist.


After putting so much thought and consideration to the type of business these brothers wanted to create, they knew they needed to find a lender who had dreams and ambitions just as large as their own.


“It is so hard to believe that our beginning with Brass Tap all started with Steve Schneider, the Senior Mortgage Lender, working on Walter’s mortgage. Steve walked Walter into my office and we started talking about his love for the culinary arts and his family. He was moving back to Iowa to build this business with his brother, James. After assisting Walter with his personal financial needs and hearing more about his and James’s dream with Brass Tap, we included commercial lending to see what LSB could do to help. I have spent quite a bit of time meeting with Walter and James, and they have grown to be more family than customers. There is a level of trust and loyalty that can only be there when you take the time to know the goals and passions of a customer.  That is what makes Lincoln Savings Bank unique,” commented Michele Knaack, Treasury Management Officer at Lincoln Savings Bank


Partnering with Lincoln Savings Bank seemed to come naturally for both Walter and James. After ironing out their financial capability, commercial lender Jason Walters helped direct them toward an SBA loan that would best suit their needs.


The two brothers worked alongside Lincoln Savings Bank’s subsidiary, VITAL Financial Services, to ensure that the SBA lending process went as quickly and smoothly as possible. There are some key benefits to SBA Loans compared to their conventional lending counterparts:
  • Access to low collateral capital, which can help finance businesses without as heavy upfront costs for potential business owners.
  • Flexibility of use for that capital; capital can be used for business acquisition, partner buyout, debt refinance, inventory purchases, working capital, and more.
  • Flexible loan structures such as SBA-7A, SBA Express, SBA-504, Disaster Loan, CAP Lines, Export Loan, and more.
  • SBA Loans also have the capability to finance Blue Sky, the term for most intangibles when assessing an existing business’s value.
With these benefits does come a longer process, since it is a government-backed program. These types of loans typically require a higher volume of paperwork, and longer due diligence checklist in order to meet the government’s high standards. At VITAL, they make it their mission to de-mystify the inner workings of the Small Business Administration and the loan programs they offer.


“One of the nice things about dealing with Lincoln Savings Bank is that they’ll walk you through it,” James shared.


Our goal at Lincoln Savings Bank is to pair our customers with their ideal financing solution. Whether that’s working alongside our skilled commercial lenders on a conventional loan or pairing up with our VITAL team on an SBA loan; we want to match each business with the best financing option to help them succeed. When our customers prosper, our communities prosper.


“They just helped us. That’s something that I will always remember from them. Is just their strive to get you what you wanted,” Walter elaborated.


With inspiring people who continue to catalyze change in the Cedar Valley, we at Lincoln Savings Bank look forward to many new and upcoming projects that will continue to push our communities forward into future growth. Thanks to committed entrepreneurs like James and Walter, we know these hometown communities are in good hands.


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