By Bill Green, Owner, Wagner House
January 23, 2018
Last Wednesday, I found myself walking around my downtown building, greeting guests and talking about wine and spirits — two of my favorite topics. I strolled upstairs to check on an event taking place on the second floor, adjusted the lights, and then replaced a soda carbonation tank that had run out. After saying good night to a few guests, and making some last-minute checks on the bartenders, wait staff and chef, I headed home.
It’s safe to say I didn’t know everything I needed to know when I entered the hospitality industry two years ago and opened The Wagner House. Honestly, I still don’t have all the right answers, nor do I always make the right decisions. But what I did have two years ago, and still have today, is a vision.
My vision to redevelop a 100-year-old, three-story industrial building in downtown Freeport into a new event center, restaurant and bar didn’t come to me in a dream in the middle of the night. The idea behind The Wagner House was born after listening to family, friends, community leaders and other visionaries who believed Freeport was worth investing in.
Entrepreneurs seldom have all the information or experience needed to execute a vision. They take risks and have to trust their instincts and their ability to solve problems, and meet the many challenges and obstacles that are bound to get in the way of the vision. Entrepreneurs know that moving a vision forward sometimes requires you go to work whether you are ready or not.
Two years ago, my vision led me to 1 E. Spring St., Freeport — the former Wagner Printing building. In repurposing the former print shop into a new space for people to meet, dine, socialize and host the most important events in their lives, my vision would lead me to 16-hour days and a new understanding of the complexities, challenges and — at times — headaches of redeveloping a building built in 1903.
But turning that vision into reality has also given me a great amount of satisfaction. There is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing your vision blossom in front of you — knowing the investment that has gone into it, the battles that have been fought along the way, the sacrifices that have been made and the sustained passion and effort needed to keep the project moving forward day in and day out.
There is great joy in seeing your family, friends, neighbors and your community respond to your realized vision with smiles, laughter and enjoyment.
Freeport is ready for impassioned entrepreneurs with new ideas and a new vision for the community. It’s ready for new businesses and new ventures. It’s inviting you — like it did me — to turn your vision into reality and share with the world what you can do. Are you ready to step up to the challenge?
Bill Green is owner of The Wagner House in downtown Freeport. Journal Standard article link.