Friends help the Taphouse hum | Black Diamond

On a budget that would make shoestring finances look abundant, Derrick Garrett and Belinda Ferguson made the former home of The Swinging Arm in Black Diamond into a place they could call their own, Taphouse, Ink.

On a budget that would make shoestring finances look abundant, Derrick Garrett and Belinda Ferguson made the former home of The Swinging Arm in Black Diamond into a place they could call their own, Taphouse, Ink.

“When we first came in, we really had no money,” Ferguson said. “We decided, let’s just do what we can on our own.”

A group of friends came into the bar and restaurant, which is for patrons 21 and over only, to paint as a birthday gift for Ferguson.

Ferguson had put art on the walls of the business, which is split into two rooms, but Jill Drllevich had a suggestion.

“We wanted to have kind of an industrial, urban feel and we wanted to use re-purposed materials,” Ferguson said. “Jill came in and said, ‘I can bring in amazing art.’ We said we couldn’t afford it. Jill said, ‘We just want a venue.’”

Paintings, bronze sculptures and more add to the decor. Items are provided by Drllevich, who is the founder of the nonprofit Ravenstone Arts, and are pieces done by local artists. Patrons can browse and purchase what’s on the wall.

Garrett, a Maple Valley native, had originally been involved with the previous incarnation of the business but stepped away but the community had tugged at him to get involved in some kind of venture again.

“When we started four years ago we, we were very successful, we knew it could be successful,” he said. “In talking with Belinda and friends and family and seeing what kind of support we had, we knew the venue and the formula it had to take to make it work.”

Part of that formula was creating an atmosphere that would be suited to their crowd of friends who are in their 30s.

“In a nutshell, it was just a good business opportunity for us,” Garrett said. “One of the things that we really wanted, we wanted to dictate the atmosphere here. The overall goal is just giving adults a place where they feel comfortable.”

The landlord for the building, which is on the west side of Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road, called them in mid-November, Garrett said. They signed the lease in December and opened the doors in mid-March.

“The city has been very helpful, the landlords have been very helpful,” Garrett said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good support from a lot of people.”

Another element that has been key to Garrett and Ferguson has been sourcing local from beers to ingredients for the food that comes out of the kitchen.

Most of the 16 brews on tap are craft beers from microbreweries in the Puget Sound region.

“We try to say that we’re a pub with a good menu,” Garrett said. “We use a local berry. We make our own sauces. I would say we’re 80 to 90 percent scratch.”

Creating a unique atmosphere from the food to the kitchen to the decor shows up in other ways at Taphouse, Ink.

For instance, that partnership with Jill Drllevich would likely not have happened had they not worked to stretch their tiny budget by working with her husband, Dan Drllevich, who owns Millworks Outlet in Maple Valley.

Garrett said Millworks is the best place to get re-purposed materials such as the pool cue rack that started out as a gun rack.

Or the steel rail that goes along the wall in the room with the pool table.

The list goes on.

“Once we started working with Dan, we got involved with his wife,” Garrett said. “It’s been a nice addition. We sold a handful of (art) pieces out of here already. For me, it’s one less thing I had to deal with.”

It makes sense that Garrett and Ferguson want the business to run like a well-oiled machine. Both of them work full time but they have four full time employees they rely on.

“It was something that we hadn’t even planned,” Ferguson said. “We thought about it a lot, especially given the recession. All of his staff, when they found out he was back, they all returned. His brother, my son work here also. That’s why this is so special to us, we consider our staff family. After a month of being open, Derrick and I don’t even need to be here.”

Thus far, that’s why the place has been successful, Garrett said.

All the support, the family feel, it set Taphouse, Ink, apart.

A customer and long time friend of Garrett’s said, “it’s like Facebook, but with beer.”

Garrett agreed with that assessment.

“It’s a community here,” he said. “We all enjoy each other.”

That’s what keeps it going despite the virtually nonexistent budget when the bar opened.

More in Business

Seattle’s misstep highlights need for new approach

Last week, Seattle’s City Council did an “about face” revoking the onerous… Continue reading

Washington’s expensive culvert court case

Too much money is spent in court where it should go to increasing the salmon population

Straw pulp looks like a game changer

250,000 tons of straw will soon be pulped for paper products.

Streamlining regulations makes more housing affordable

There were over 21,000 people homeless in Washington State last year.

New approaches needed to fight super wildfires | Don Brunell

Last year, wildfires nationwide consumed 12,550 square miles, an area larger than Maryland.

Skilled trade jobs go unfilled in our robust economy

Known as blue collar jobs, they routinely pay $45,000 to $65,000 a year or more.

Streamlining regulations helps Americans compete

The cost of regulations is a key American competitiveness issue. It is a major reason our companies re-locate to other countries and our manufacturers and farmers have difficulties competing internationally.

Water pressure mounting in West as population spikes

What is happening in California with water allocation disputes is a harbinger of what is to come in our state as well.

Railroads implementing positive track

While the investigation continues into the deadly AMTRAK derailment near Dupont, the clock continues to tick on the implementation of Positive Track Control (PTC). The deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.

Keep the holiday spirit all year long | Don Brunell

During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts, but donating our time and money to charities, disasters and community programs.

Finding balance in occupational licensing

Recently, the Institute for Justice (Institute) determined state licensing barriers for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs not only hurts people trying to establish themselves in a profession, but annually drives consumer prices up by $203 billion.

Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.