Written By: Suzanne Penegor & Casie Brabham
Co-owner Linda Addison, of the Sixth Street Gastro Pub & Grill in downtown Eugene, said Gary Smith’s Small Business Management program at the Lane Small Business Development Center “made you stop and reassess day-to-day operations.” Linda and her husband Keith purchased the business in 1997 after it had been established in the 1980s.
The downtown location at 55 W. 6th Ave. in Eugene, near the Hult Center and the Hilton Hotel, was a big consideration when she and her husband purchased the restaurant. She mused, “We had jokingly said, wouldn’t it be great if Sixth Street was ever for sale–and the next week we got the call from our broker.” She added that her family had a place in Anchorage, Alaska on Sixth Street across from their performing arts center which was built by the same architect who built the Hult Center. The coincidences led them to believe owning the Sixth Street Grill was meant to be.
On their Facebook page, they describe themselves as “Eugene’s only Gastro Steakhouse and Sports Bar.” They have “one of the largest collections of Duck sports memorabilia” and Linda says it gives them satisfaction being involved in local community events and fundraising. The bar offers 18 beers on tap as well as many craft cocktails. They also pride themselves in their Hangover Brunch and “strong drinks.” For the restaurant side Linda describes their menu items as “higher end food with a comfort flavor.” The menu includes thick hand-cut steaks, gourmet salads, and burgers. Their unique niche is what keeps their customers coming back.
She says that Lane’s Small Business Management program was a “refresher” for her and her husband. Linda has former management, sales, marketing, and administrative experience to bring to the table, however, Gary Smith’s three year program helped them analyze their business practices, set goals, and improve processes. She said the most helpful part of the SBM program was the peer group of other business owners, and being able to email SBDC instrustor/advisor Gary Smith with business questions. She also enjoyed the guest speakers who came to several classes because they provided helpful information on a variety of topics.
Despite her background Linda and her husband had not owned a restaurant before buying the Sixth Street Grill. One of their challenges has been learning the government regulations for this type of business. In addition Linda said family-owned restaurants have their own unique challenges competing against national chains. However she feels that also helps them differentiate their menu from other restaurants. She said the Sixth Street Grill makes many items on their menu from scratch, using local products. They want to give customers a unique experience with great hospitality that makes them want to return.
Of the Lane SBDC, Linda noted, “We absolutely loved Gary’s classes and the technical support from Nick (Wiley). The assistance we received was great because we could tailor it to our needs as an existing business while looking into new opportunities to improve and expand our business. The most impactful aspect of the SBDC was the variety of topics that were covered and how each one tied into the other.” Linda commented, “You need a solid business plan and to be prepared to work very hard. You are never off the clock ever and you will deal with more things than you ever thought you would. But if you love what you do, it’s all worth it in the end.”
She added, “The greatest success for us was being able to take a hard look at our existing practices and have the courage to embrace new menu concepts, hire a new head chef, redo our logo and image to give us a needed facelift, and create something new for guests to enjoy- and hopefully bring all their friends to!”
Learn More About Sixth Street Grill.