When Mike Bedder got into Kent State University, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He entered the university as an exploratory major and graduated in 2000 with a degree in integrated studies. During his last year and a half of college, Bedser had a job as a bartender at a bar in Kent, Robin Hood, which has since closed.
“I enjoyed the business. I was good at promoting the place and getting people in the door,” Bedser said. I think I thought, ‘I can do it.'”
In 2001, Bedser purchased the Water Street Tavern bar in downtown Kent.
Today Beder is the owner/partner of several Kent businesses including Water Street Tavern, Kent Sportswear, Cleveland Bagel Cafe, Lakehouse Kitchen & Bar, The Loft and Venice Cafe.
“My favorite part of entrepreneurship is creating and starting something and believing that this is a value that adds to the community,” Beder said. It was really exciting to see different ideas come to life.”
Originally from out of state, he felt he knew the market so well that he stayed in Kent after graduation to start his career.
“I started with Water Street Tavern. “As I got older, I became more interested in things of that nature, restaurants and coffee shops.
Though he’s run a number of businesses since his career began, Beder still enjoys his bar business.
“In the bar industry, you never know who’s going to walk in. There’s always something new and interesting, even when things seem like the status quo,” Beder says.
He also found owning a bar, especially in Kent, to be a rewarding experience.
“Starting out as a student, seeing places like Leigh where alumni used to go, and now seeing a generation of students who came to Kent, Water Street and The Loft were their bars,” Bedder said. . For homecoming or when they come back to visit or catch up with friends. It’s so rewarding to see us become part of the community. ”
Bedser said the college offseason won’t affect his business.
“I think it’s no different than being in a beach town or a city like Cleveland. Everything is seasonal,” Beder says.
Many of the small business owners in downtown Kent know each other and are very supportive of each other. Bedser was introduced to Charlie Thomas, the owner of Barley’s Place, shortly after graduation because of his interest in starting a bar. Thomas gave him valuable insight into his experience.
“He let me pick his brain for a few hours, which was really cool. I try to remember that someone gave me that experience.
Vader continues to interact with Kent State University after graduation. For the past 10 years, he has been a resident entrepreneur in the school’s entrepreneurship program. In this role, Beder will act as a resource for students in the program, helping students set business milestones and providing advice based on real-life experience. He also attends classes several times a year and listens to his business presentations and provides feedback to students.
Beder enjoys giving back to the Kent community. He is the co-director of the Crooked His River Arts Festival, which annually hosts events such as Kent His Beetlefest and Kent Bluesfest.
“I like being involved in the community and creating opportunities,” he said.
In this role, Beder works primarily with digital advertising and oversees the booking and scheduling of these events.
He is also active on the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Kent’s Board of Directors, Portager’s Board of Directors, and KSU’s Hospitality Management Committee.
He also helps manage local comedian Mike Polk Jr., a close friend of him since they attended college together at Kent State University.
Outside of his busy career, Beder spends most of his free time with his family. He is married to his wife Lucy and has his two young children, Sonny and Olive.
Bedder encourages Kent State University students interested in entrepreneurship to start a business venture today.
“Now is the time to do it. You can always do it, but if you fail too badly, now is a great time when people don’t have the assets to follow. It’s a great learning experience.” He said.
“This is a lifestyle I’ve really enjoyed. It’s all about being happy, and if entrepreneurship or creating something in that respect makes you happy, that’s a great lifestyle.”
Addison Foreman is a reporter.contact her [email protected]