Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeff Downie, Owner of The Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar, located in Duncan, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a Wine and Cocktail Bar in Downtown Duncan with a ‘from scratch kitchen’ that curated original menus and caters to a local, high quality, and fun dining culture. We are very local with 11 years of history and a tremendously supportive and loyal town and clientele.

Tell us about yourself

My journey in small business entrepreneurship began in November of 1996, with my parents helping me acquire a used and rare bookshop in Downtown Duncan on Vancouver Island. In 2011, I transformed the space where the bookshop resides and built and opened The Old Firehouse Wine Bar. It was a dream to own my own restaurant and wine bar after the lovely bookshop fell on some hard times. It has been another incredible way to connect with local people in the community.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I am on a journey of sobriety after a tough conclusion to a short life of excess in my teens to mid-twenties. I am proud of owning a high-quality establishment with a craft cocktail program and being the bartender. I am most proud, though, of the wonderful and caring team of staff (like family) who have persisted through thick and thin to keep our concept continuously improving and moving forward. My staff is my wealth and my gold. They are all truly incredible.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The continuous emotion of the ups and the downs. It is never easy, but always so worth the dedication and work. It’s impossible to choose the future and change the past, so living in the present is a refined skill that needs constant work. It’s important to plan, but so crucial to stay focused on what can be changed, which is usually in the present moment.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Seek help, mentorship, and all support you can get.
  2. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
  3. Always continue to dream and share your dreams consistently with others.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.