Fredonia native Morgan Genovese, B.S.’19, MBA’21, came to Niagara University to play soccer and softball while earning her undergraduate and graduate business degrees. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, her intent was to become a business owner herself, although she hadn’t decided what that business would be.
As she spent more time in the Niagara Falls community, she began to notice that people were investing in the city, anticipating an economic revitalization that she realized she wanted to be part of. So she decided to open a bar that would complement the growing entertainment and arts district in the downtown area.
“There’s such a demand for food and beverage,” she said. “Every major city is filled with bars and restaurants, and people are more inclined to come out when there are options.”
After researching what kinds of properties were available, Genovese chose to lease a 1,400-square-foot space at 435 Third St., which had a bar and an upstairs lounge. Although she had initially intended to incorporate her love of athletics with her business plan and establish a sports bar, the space wasn’t suitable. So, drawing on what she learned in her business classes, she did an assessment of the businesses in the area and her target market to determine what might be sustainable both in the tourism season and the months that follow. She decided to focus on a cocktail bar.
Brainstorming sessions with friends helped her come up with the name for her business—The GoldBar—and the logo designed by friend and fellow Purple Eagle Selena Mangoni, B.S.’20, influenced the interior transformation from an art gallery and café into a modern bar with a gold, black, and white color scheme.
The NU connection continued to be a key resource for Genovese as she navigated the process of business ownership. Dr. Anna McNab and Stacey Woock, faculty in the College of Business Administration, reviewed her business plan and introduced her to people who could assist as she followed the steps necessary to establish her corporation. Alumna Lexi Alfiere, B.S.’19, MBA’20, general manager of the Silo restaurant in nearby Lewiston, helped her inspect the space, and her accountant, liquor, and banking representatives are all graduates of Niagara. But the support of her girlfriend, Rachel Dorgan, B.S.’17, general manager of the Hyatt Place Hotel in downtown Niagara Falls, was the most invaluable.
“Rachel has been by my side throughout the process of navigating this business venture,” Genovese said. “Her connections in the industry and first-hand tourism insights have helped me, and she has seen me through both the good days and the bad days of opening a business.”
Genovese was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the local business community was willing to help her learn the ropes of the industry, with which she had no previous experience.
“I signed a lease to open a bar before I ever bartended or served, but I was committed to figuring it out,” she said. “So this summer, I picked up bartending and serving shifts at the Craft Kitchen and Bar.”
Although the COVID pandemic delayed the fall grand opening she anticipated, Genovese is hoping that the final steps will be complete soon so that she can welcome patrons and establish herself as part of the revitalization of the community she has come to love.