Aunt Pat's Bar: Brewing opportunities

All Woman

Aunt Pat's Bar: Brewing opportunities

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP is a path often taken by the brave who seek not just professional success, but also moral fulfilment and self-actualisation through service for others. Patricia Miller is among those who traverse this rocky road, and has spent more than two decades establishing herself as owner of Aunt Pat's Bar in the vicinity of Waltham Park Road.

Fondly known as Aunt Pat, she is a matriarch guided by values of hard work as she leads an entire community and two generations of family who look to her as a role model for conducting business.

According to Miller, she has never been a stranger to the bar environment or to the entrepreneurial mindset.

“I actually started out working in bars back in the day. I was always independent, so I eventually started my own hustle selling knick-knacks from my home. This is really how I came to build a deep relationship with the people in the community who appreciated how I operated that business. I eventually went back to working in a bar when a friend of mine asked me to help him out,” she explained.

Learning the importance of having a solid reputation in operating a community business early in her career, Miller used the relationships she had forged through her own hustle to elevate her friend's bar. She recalled an instance when she realised that she might be successful in pursuing her own venture.

“Once, my friend had to travel, so he left me in charge of running the bar. When he returned and saw how well the business had done in his absence, he was very impressed. It was his positive feedback that really made me start to consider owning my own bar.”

Not everyone was sold on this idea at first, including her landlord. However, she was determined to make her dreams a reality.

“I heard that there was a space up for rent and I decided to speak with the owner. At first he was reluctant to let me rent it, but once he saw how determined I was he gave in and told me I could rent the space if I came up with three months' downpayment. I love challenges, so I accepted and was successful in getting the space. The owner gave me his blessing and here I am 21 years later,” she expressed.

Over the years, Aunt Pat's Bar has become an integral part of the small business ecosystem in the Waltham Park community. As her bar became more popular, her customers started coming for more than a drink — they would often stay for dinner or play dominos in her yard.

In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, Miller has expanded her enterprise to include a jerk stand, New Year's bar parties and regular community fish-fry events. She attributes her success to being able to create a space where the whole community can relax and connect.

By embodying hard work and a nuanced understanding of small business management, Miller has also become a major source of encouragement for her children who have followed closely in her entrepreneurial footsteps.

Her son, Antonio Rhoden, noted, “Everything I know as an entrepreneur, I learnt from watching my mother. I've seen how she uses strong principles to encourage her staff, and I've seen how her customers respect her. My siblings and I now own three wholesales for ourselves, and we employ approximately 30 people from the community. We invest heavily in building a good reputation for ourselves because our mother has been our greatest role model.”

This year, State-imposed restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted many small business owners like Miller. Despite all that has happened, she still manages to remain optimistic for the future.

“I have never seen anything like COVID-19; no hurricane or any other disaster has ever affected me like it has. It won't be easy, but I know that with a little support and some hard work, bar owners all across Jamaica can bounce right back in due time.”

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