Kabbage spoke with Kabbage customer Jacie Dunkle, owner of Tin Whistle Irish Pub. Dunkle and her team bring Irish culture to life for her guests and love doing so. Along with Tin Whistle, Dunkle owns two other restaurants in the Charlottesville area as well – Fellini’s #9 and Salad Maker. To keep up with Tin Whistle, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Imagine entering a room and feeling as if you’ve stepped into another country. Lively Celtic music playing throughout the room, chatter and laughter among close friends, the scent of freshly baked Irish soda bread wafting in the air – all paired with a perfectly poured Guinness. This is the atmosphere of Tin Whistle Irish Pub.
Jacie began her small business journey during a visit to Charlottesville when she saw an abandoned restaurant – Fellini’s Italian Restaurant – and decided to make a career change. She purchased it and reopened it, calling it Fellini’s #9. Over time, a Celtic band began frequently playing at Fellini’s, and one day she discussed turning Fellini’s into an Irish pub for the summer. From there, Richard Lange, a band member, mentioned wanting to own an Irish pub. As luck would have it, they found a property up for rent, so they decided to dive in and open Tin Whistle.
“With his help and with the help of the Irish band, we figured out what the sense of Irish pub was going to mean,” Dunkle says. “And I’d been to Scotland many times, so I know what the pub feel was like.”
With live local, music Friday through Sunday, pub quiz night on Wednesday and traditional Irish jam sessions on Tuesday, guests can expect to feel as if they’ve been transported to Ireland when they step into the pub.
To immerse their guests into Irish culture even further, Tin Whistle offers traditional Irish dishes, including bangers and mash, fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, using local and fresh ingredients to support other small businesses.
“Whenever we can, we buy local vegetables and local whatever – as much as local food as we can – to support the local economy and prepare it with care,” Dunkle says. “We’re making sure that’s the way it should be, and we’re not just throwing frozen jalapeño poppers in the fryer.”
The pub also takes a lot of pride in how it handles its Guinness, being particular about how they pour and serve it.
“The Guinness in Ireland tastes different from the Guinness in the United States,” Dunkle says, “and they say it’s because of the water.”
To serve the perfect Guinness, they pull the handle all the way forward at a 45-degree angle until it’s about three-quarters of an inch from the top of the glass, according to Jacie. Then, they let it settle for around 119.5 seconds and then push the handle back to finish off the head. This isn’t a guess on perfection – a Guinness representative visited Tin Whistle to show them how to do the proper pour. They also suggested a company that can check the levels of nitrogen and CO2 to ensure a perfect mix.
“I didn’t realize that the two separate,” she says on keeping the perfect balance between nitrogen and CO2. “It’s a more elaborate system, and it costs a little more, but when I first opened, that was important. So, I decided to go with the company that provided the mix outside – and it comes exactly right every time.”
Tin Whistle also offers a Guinness cheese spread paired with Dubliner cheese, honey butter and Irish soda bread that Jacie herself makes fresh every morning. Jacie believes making the bread fresh every day is important as it brings more value to the traditional Irish dish.
For Jacie, owning Tin Whistle is a dream come true.
“I love the live music. I love Guinness. I love Jameson. I love good Irish food. And I love being in a pub and sitting outside in the breeze and drinking a Guinness,” she says. “It’s the best of everything – best of owning a restaurant.”
But owning a successful restaurant isn’t always easy. Starting up is often pricey, which can lead small business owners to go into debt early on. Jacie’s debt with credit card processors grew, but fortunately, she found Kabbage from an email offer.
“I was curious because one of the statements was low-interest rates and monthly payments,” she says on what captured her interest. However, what she loves most about Kabbage is the quick turnaround and ease of accessibility to funds.
“I can do it online. It’s very convenient and very easy,” she says. “They tell me how much money I can borrow, and it’s in my bank within a day or two. It’s just easy, convenient funding and easy payback – and no penalty for an early pay.”
She also views Kabbage as a partner in her business rather than a lender, crediting it for allowing her to keep her businesses open by offering her the funds she needed for equipment updates, unexpected expenses and startup costs for Tin Whistle as well as one of her other restaurants, The Salad Maker.
“I feel that Kabbage has helped me,” she says. “It feels like just another partnership between me, my other partner and Kabbage. We’re all in this together.”
Despite the challenges, Jacie believes every step and hurdle was worth it. She advises other small business owners and entrepreneurs to let go of their fears and take the risk.
“You only live once, so just go for it because you don’t always have a second chance to do something you’ve really wanted to do,” she says. “And I’m a perfect example of that.”
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