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Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Lynch.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The idea for The Local Drive began over seven years ago when I met my good friend, and now business partner, Winston Manley. I had been working in the hotel industry for nine years and had accepted a new position that moved me from Boston to Houston, TX to open the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown. To settle into my new city, I joined a local CrossFit gym, and this is where I met Winston, and my wife, Katie. Winston was a coach, who turned into a friend and someone I grew to respect through his individual achievements, character, and drive to help others be successful. We talk about living in Colorado in the future, as we both enjoy all things outdoors: camping, hiking, skiing, you name it. We also joked about going into business together as we both have an entrepreneurial spirit. Hanging out together always resulted in a new business venture idea or two, however, the timing was never quite right to take the dive into owning our own business. At the time, Winston worked for BP as a deep-sea drilling engineer in the Gulf of Mexico. After a little over two years in Houston, I accepted a new position in Nashville, TN.
Fast forward a year and a half, I was enjoying my new role with Marriott’s Operation Support Resource division consulting F&B operations for Luxury, Resort & Convention hotel properties around Nashville. Katie and I were doing long-distance, only able to see each other every 4-6 weeks. Then something happened that affected the entire world, the COVID pandemic struck. I was placed on furlough with no certainty how long it would last. Five months later our division was dissolved, and I accepted a severance package. After almost 10 years with an amazing company that allowed me to work with some of the best leaders in the hotel industry and opportunities to live in Austin, Boston, Houston, and Nashville, it was surreal to have it come to such an abrupt end.
I started what would be an 8-month transition into figuring out what was next in life. During that downtime, I traveled and went back home to my hometown of Ruidoso, NM to work for an old friend who owns Noisy Water Winery. I worked with the harvest team to process 300+ tons of grapes during their 2020 harvest season. I also spent more time with family in 3 months than I had in the previous 10 years which really grounded me to what is important in life. At the end of the harvest season, I moved to Houston where Katie was still working and after almost four years together, I proposed to her.
The hospitality industry was still struggling to recover so it was difficult to find work. I spent countless weeks of applying to jobs in Texas, so Katie and I decided to expand our search and look in Colorado where we knew we wanted to end up one day. Just days after doing so, I accepted a job offer to work as a business development executive for a nationwide firm called Xclusive Services that specializes in staffing and commercial cleaning. In the coming weeks, my wife and I broke our apartment lease in Houston and moved across state lines to Colorado where she took a new job in a new industry as well. To say it was a tumultuous time is an understatement.
Winston and I stayed in touch sporadically although we have the kind of friendship that allows us to catch up quickly as if no time had passed. Winston had moved to Denver with his girlfriend Kelly the previous year. When I arrived in Denver, Winston and I went out with some friends to play a round of golf and the entrepreneurial wheels started turning again. Over a few beers and many “what ifs” we decided to be business partners and take the leap into a new venture. The Local Drive, LLC was formed and in 361 days we went from initial research to breaking ground on the construction at our location in the RiNo Arts District. We spent endless hours forming a business plan and proforma, securing funding, branding, and visiting dozens of venues before finding the right location, all while continuing with our full-time corporate jobs. As we came to realize this dream was becoming a reality, we made the decision to quit our jobs and focus solely on the new business.
While we both have a passion for the game of golf and a desire to improve, our lives of living on oil rigs and in hotel industry has never provided us the opportunity. We believe there are plenty of people like ourselves, and our aim is to make golf more accessible and inclusive for others to enjoy.
The Local Drive ethos is about showcasing what Colorado has to offer. We strive to achieve this goal through partnerships with local breweries, distilleries, and wineries to craft a menu that highlights the best our state has to offer. While this focus can be found through several bars and restaurants in the state, we also want to feature the incredible maker-culture that Colorado has by collaborating with local wood and metal shops, as well as other artisans, to provide a location to show off their work. As an ode to RiNo Arts District, we are also commissioning a local artist to create murals on several features within our space. We believe it is important to support local small businesses as we come out of the COVID pandemic, and as Winston would say, “A Rising Tide Raises All Ships!”
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Overall, our project’s execution has been relatively smooth with only a few sand traps along the way. The largest of which has been the city permitting process which has been challenging, untimely, and at times unfathomably frustrating. However, after 17 long weeks, we have finally received our permit and can begin construction. Our expected opening date is now early summer 2022. Throughout the pandemic, I believe everyone has learned if you can’t pivot quickly, you will be left behind. In response to our elongating timeline, we have opened a new branch of the business by fabricating and building a full-size custom and portable Trackman Golf Simulator. We believe this to be the first of its kind offered in the state and has the potential to become its own entity. It is currently operational and can be utilized for a multitude of events, including wedding venues, hotels, resorts, conventions, networking events, and social gatherings.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
The Local Drive is an upscale golf simulator facility with a cocktail bar and event space located at 3503 Brighton Blvd Denver, CO 80216. It is owned by Winston Manley and Joe Lynch. The space offers five full-size Trackman Golf Simulator Bays inside a 5,100 sq ft venue. We offer hourly bay rentals along with monthly memberships and eventually lessons from PGA professionals as well as golf tournaments. Our beverage menu will offer seasonal highlights from local craft beer, wine, and spirits with a goal of 85% sourced from the state of Colorado. Food will be accessible from nearby restaurants via QR codes and will be delivered to the property.
Many indoor golf facilities are directly focused on the avid golfer. This often comes with minimal space for the non-golfing patrons and a design that is not focused on overall experience. We designed our space to cater to everyone who comes through our door, whether you are the most passionate of golfers or someone who just enjoys a well-made cocktail, there will be a place for you at The Local Drive.
One of the most exciting things about the Local Drive brand is the platform it provides to showcase the best Colorado has to offer. This comes in the form of spirit makers, chefs, artists, artisans, clothing designers, and so much more. One way this is represented is a beautiful 17-foot long, live-edge Ponderosa pine table. It will find its home between our two largest bays and has been crafted in conjunction with I Made It Workshop using wood from the Colorado wildfires. While the main focus of our brand is the brick-and-mortar RiNo location, the hardships we have endured bringing this dream to fruition has spawned the creation of Colorado’s first portable Trackman golf simulator.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
It might sound cliché, but the most valuable piece of advice I can offer is to keep an open mind. This has paid dividends for Winston and me in the form of finding partners and areas of expansion for our business, that I never would have considered or even known about if I had begun under the assumption that I already knew everything. Be confident with the knowledge you possess about your business but be humble in your approach as you tread into new waters, as you will find there have been other who have gone before you and can help with challenges of starting a new business. As for finding a mentor, the above advice can also apply, although having an article written about you in VoyageDenver certainly doesn’t hurt!