With sales down 60 percent and a staff of 18 reduced to just six, something needed to change for J&B’s Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill on Milwaukee West Side.
Bob Schindel, along with John Bliesner, owns one of the quintessential “Brewers Bars” on W. Bluemound Road in the shadows of American Family Field, previously known as Miller Park. Like most small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on them.
“What we’re bringing in and what’s going out each month, it was off,” said Schindel. “It was off by thousands.”
Just before Christmas, a friend told them about the Barstool Fund.
Created by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, the fund is aimed at helping small businesses get through the pandemic.
“It’s kind of crazy. They’re raising money and I never thought anything of it,” said Schindel. “You’re kind of down and out, you’re depressed, you’re like ‘they’re never gonna choose me’.”
With the help of friend of the bar Nick Schultz, they sent Barstool a video, and they were chosen.
“They’re going to make monthly installments to me until the pandemic is over or until we’re in a good spot,” said Shindel.
With vaccines continuing to be rolled out across the country, Schindel hopes optimism begins to spread as fast as the virus did in its worst days.
“I’m looking for March,” he said. “March is my target month. Hoping basketball stays afloat. Hoping St. Patty’s Day is still a thing. Going into the first week of April if we can get some tailgaters, get some people to come watch [Brewers games], that’s what I’m banking on.”
To date, the Barstool Fund has raised over $22 million and has helped nearly 120 small businesses.