Like many entrepreneurs, Russell Brent had a vision for his Battle Ground pub. What he decided to do with that vision sets him apart from other restaurateurs.
Tabling his own ideas, Brent wanted to dive into the culture of the town and shape Mill Creek Pub to reflect the community. Meeting with Louise Tucker, historian and author of “Battle Ground… In and Around,” Brent was able to flavor the pub to be a representation of the town and her people.
“The mission of Mill Creek Pub is to connect with the community with food made from the heart,” Brent said. “This is a place where Republicans and Democrats can break bread and find common ground.”
Connecting with the community has certainly been an ingredient for success. Since its opening on November 11, 2011 (yes, 11/11/11), Mill Creek Pub has done nothing but grow.
The pub has exceeded sales goals each year since it first opened in 2011, and 2014 is pushing 30 percent sales growth over last year.
Brent, who started in the industry as a dishwasher, graduated to waiting tables and ultimately managed ten locations for Real Mex Restaurants up and down the Pacific Coast, has leveraged his decades of experience to give Mill Creek Pub a solid foundation.
“Good food and great service are always part of a restaurant’s success,” he said. “What separates Mill Creek is the deep connection with the community.”
Unprecedented growth is not without its challenges. Brent shared that keeping up with demand along with typical industry turnover makes the staffing and hiring of a consistently high-performing crew difficult.
“I am very picky about who I hire. Finding the right employee is critical; they must share the same values that represent Mill Creek Pub,” he said.
What hasn’t been a challenge for Brent and the pub is becoming engulfed in the community. Brent doesn’t just make donations to nonprofits in the area, he makes personal connections. One such connection is with Shannon Walker, founder of Northwest Battle Buddies – a foundation that provides veterans with service dogs at no charge. Whether recovering from PTSD or depression, the service dogs help veterans return to daily life.
“I have seen first-hand, the power of these dogs. I met a man, despondent and hiding from the world. He had an amazing turn-around, reducing his medications, returning to life,” Brent explained.
Another organization Mill Creek Pub supports is Urban Abundance. Brent has connected with Executive Director Warren Neth in his food-related charity. Urban Abundance’s mission is to restore local food resources, such as cultivating fruit trees and reinvigorating local orchards in the region to propagate healthy and accessible food.
“The people of Battle Ground love to give. I enjoy providing a resource for them to share the love,” Brent said. “By being involved, I help people open their hearts and their wallets to causes that are dear to them.”
Running a business from the heart leads to great success.
“I love what I do,” Brent exclaimed.
His passion for the community and his restaurant are opening new doors for the future.
“I am in the process of looking at different sites throughout Clark County to add new locations. Each new restaurant will be different and reflective of the local culture.”