Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network

 

Belmont Club

 

Belmont ClubLocated in the historic 1845 John Young house, a former boarding house, the Belmont Club was first opened as a private social club in 1933, the day after the 21st Amendment was passed repealing Prohibition. In the mid-1970’s the Club was opened to the public but there was no signage on the building, so patrons had to be referred by a friend to learn where the Club was located. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and included in the Downtown Fall River Historic District in 1985.  

After retiring as a middle school science teacher, Priscilla Brennan Poirer assumed the third-generation ownership and management of the Club in the 1990’s, from her father John R. Brennan who took over the reins from his father John H. Brennan. The elder Mr. Brennan wanted to celebrate the pubs in his hometown of Cork, Ireland by painting the Club walls black, like the pubs of his homeland. His granddaughter has brightened up the Club with warm and welcoming colors. Over the years there have been many distinguished people to visit the Belmont Club including the onetime Boston mayor James Curley and then Congressman John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A local Fall River baker, who was a longtime Club patron, made the wedding cake for President and Mrs. Kennedy’s celebration.  

Since May 2020, Priscilla has taken advantage of as many Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC), Small Business Administration (SBA), and Commonwealth of Massachusetts resources available to the Belmont Club. Priscilla met with three MSBDC senior business advisors, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, and other resource partners for advice for the reopening the Belmont Club. She has taken advantage of webinars pertaining to expanding her business, human resources, and business planning. In September 2021, Priscilla participated on a panel for our SBA Lenders Roundtable. Most recently, Priscilla met with Cliff Robbins regarding best practices for social media marketing and advertising for the Club, discussing interviewing and hiring employees, updating their employee handbook, as well as accounting principles. 

Like so many businesses, the Belmont Club was closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and remained closed until February 2022. Because they didn’t serve food, they were not allowed to open as early as restaurants that had outdoor dining. Priscilla has decided that it is time for the next generation to take over the family legacy. Her son John Heller has been working alongside her learning about the business, the numerous vendors, and the upgrading of the kitchen and bar equipment. They are now serving small bites and desserts along with featuring their house brand Root Beer. They have purchased a cappuccino machine and are now serving various specialty coffee drinks.  

Some of the challenges that delayed the reopening of the Belmont Club were vendor supply shortages and due to the staffing shortages in every field, getting qualified contractors to complete jobs on time and correctly. In their quest to appropriately staff the Club they have attended a job fair, reached out to MassHire, placed ads with online search firms, and spread the word to colleagues, family, and friends. With encouragement from the MSBDC, they have joined the One SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce and its SouthCoast Human Resources Council and have interacted with Viva Fall River, a local downtown revitalization organization that was created from the TDI designation of Fall River’s downtown area.

The Belmont Club is open and enjoying welcoming back their loyal patrons, while meeting new friends. Business has been very busy with customers enjoying the new additions of charcuterie boards and specialty cocktails and coffee drinks. The Club is bringing back musicians and special events and experiencing great success.

The MSBDC is looking forward to continuing to work with Priscilla and her son John as they continue to grow the Belmont Club in its fourth generation of management.

www.belmontclubfallriver.com

Belmont Club