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Ann Arbor’s Popular Bar & Eatery, Venue by 4M - Success Born of Dreaming Big, with Bank Michigan

Ann Arbor’s Popular Bar & Eatery, Venue by 4M - Success Born of Dreaming Big, with Bank Michigan

An Interview with Margaret Poscher, CEO of 4M Consolidated Brands, and Mike Chatas, Chief Lending Officer, Bank Michigan

Margaret (or “Marge” as she’s better known) Poscher's success story is an exciting one of following your own path with grit, determination, and a little help from your local community bank. From finding a fresh start after a successful career as a physician to returning to her hometown to expand her thriving business, Margaret’s success is a testament to being open to new experiences, dreaming big, and partnering with a bank that believed in her. 

With her entrepreneurial spirit and guidance from Bank Michigan, Margaret was able to grow her real estate development portfolio, transform an abandoned supermarket into a popular bar and eatery, and is set to open her biggest project, a 250-unit building in the heart of Ann Arbor.

We were able to spend some time with Marge, along with Mike Chatas, Bank Michigan’s Chief Lending Officer, to get her take on a number of questions. 

1. Tell us a little about your business, yourself, and your role in the business.

Margaret’s business journey begins in California, where she enjoyed a successful career practicing medicine for over three decades. Later in her career, Margaret and her wife thought it would be wise to start investing. They decided to use Marge’s experience in real estate to start purchasing properties in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Their choice of Ann Arbor was no accident. As Marge and her wife are both Michigan natives, they wanted to do their part to improve the community that filled them with fond memories of their childhood. They decided that Ann Arbor’s picturesque scenery and vibrant community would be a great place to root their new business.

Over the course of the next ten years, Marge and her wife worked hard to acquire and renovate homes while commuting to and from California. At first, their main interest was creating housing for the students at the University of Michigan. But they soon realized that short-term rentals were not only a more profitable venture but also gave them the opportunity to expand their portfolio at a quicker pace. So, they decided to diversify their holdings into both short-term and long-term rentals.

  • Margaret Poscher: About two and a half years ago, it became clear that our business had grown into a full-time commitment. So, I retired from my medical practice and we moved out here to Ann Arbor. I now oversee all our ventures and am the CEO of our company: 4M Consolidated Brands.

Once she moved back to Michigan, Marge had the time to fully commit to her thriving business. She was currently satisfied with the number of properties she owned, so she switched her focus to property management. She found that managing her own properties was not only a good cost-saving measure, but it was also a great way to create high-quality jobs in the Ann Arbor community. 

With her property management operation going well, it gave Marge time to set her eyes on expansion. During her time in Ann Arbor, she noticed that a grocery store that was central to her neighborhood had gone out of business. This abandoned building piqued her interest. Soon she realized that it was in a prime location for her next business venture: a bar and restaurant. 

Marge had many ideas for her new restaurant. But as it was her first venture into being a restaurateur, she wanted to take her time to develop a concept that would make both her and the community proud. She set out to find a chef who could transform her vision of high-quality food and exquisite service into a reality. After many long months of speaking with chefs and discussing menus, she finally had a stroke of luck. A well-regarded chef who owned her favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor became available. It was then that she and Chef Thad Gillies agreed to team up and create her vision for an open-concept bar and eatery: Venue by 4M

  • Margaret Poscher: Venue is the name of our restaurant and bar. We are currently serving four different menus, so there are high-quality food options available for a variety of tastes. It’s also part of a very large building that’s approximately 30,000 square feet. So, we have a co-working space, a large event space, a huge outdoor patio, and a small market and café for simple grab-and-go items like groceries, coffee, and ready-made food.

Since the opening of Venue in September 2022, business has never been better for Marge. Her restaurant and bar are enjoying rave reviews and have become one of the hottest restaurants in Ann Arbor. Her property management operation and restaurant are running smoothly, and she now manages over 90 employees. And soon she will construct her biggest project yet: an 8-story building that contains over 250 units. 

Marge’s success is the perfect example of how to create a thriving business. With a lot of ambition, a little know-how, and SBA loans from Bank Michigan, anything is possible!

2. What was it that initially got you banking with Bank Michigan?

  • Margaret Poscher: We started working with Bank Michigan way back. At the time, we had outgrown the bank we were working with and wanted to find a small community bank that could help us expand our business. We met with Rick (the CEO) from Bank Michigan for lunch to discuss what our goals were and see if they were open to providing us with the support we needed. Luckily, they were, and it’s been a helpful relationship ever since.

When starting her real estate development business, Marge worked with a small bank that provided her with loans to purchase a few small and medium-sized properties. Once her business took off, she needed to find a bank that could grow along with her business and handle larger projects. She really wanted to avoid working with a big national bank, as she much preferred working with someone that shared her interest in improving Ann Arbor. This is when she found Bank Michigan. With the guidance of our lenders, she was able to expand her business into the successful enterprise that it is today.

3. How did your Bank Michigan lender provide your business with the help it needed to succeed?

  • Margaret Poscher: Bank Michigan was instrumental in helping us expand the property management aspect of our business and navigate our pivot to short-term rentals. Mike Chatas, our lender at Bank Michigan took the time to really understand our goals, and the open communication with him was helpful during this transition. 

When Marge decided to transform a portion of her rental properties into short-term rentals, it brought on a few unexpected challenges. Being the lending officer assigned to 4M Consolidated Brands, MikeChatas took the initiative of helping Marge navigate the process.

  • MikeChatas: One challenge of the transition to short-term rentals was that property appraisers were having difficulty assigning a proper value to their buildings. They see a property that earns significantly more revenue than buildings of similar sizes, and it can lead to inaccurate appraisals. So, at Bank Michigan, we had to learn all that we could about the short-term rental market and really get comfortable with it. That way, we could make informed credit decisions that help our clients in a responsible manner.

4. What are some of the challenges your business has faced over the years, and how have you overcome them?

Owning and operating a business during COVID-19 was challenging for many small and medium-sized businesses. Luckily, with the help of Bank Michigan, Marge was able to not only survive the economic conditions but also carry on full steam ahead with the development and grand opening of her bar and restaurant.

  • Margaret Poscher: During COVID, we were able to get an SBA loan through Bank Michigan that really helped us through that situation and gave us the funds we needed to open our restaurant.

Apart from surviving the trying times of COVID-19, Marge has faced many challenges that can be typical for a first-time owner of a growing enterprise. One of these challenges involves staffing. The quick growth of her businesses has meant that the number of people she employs has ballooned from eight to over ninety in three short years. Finding the right people to represent her business and being an effective leader is something she has learned very quickly.

  • Michael Chatas: I think they’ve done a great job of providing a good work environment for their employees. I’ve been to Venue many times. I know their employees by name now, and they know mine too. It really feels like they enjoy being there, which is a pretty awesome thing.

5. What are some of the exciting opportunities that are ahead for you and your business?

  • Margaret Poscher: In addition to the success of Venue, we are expanding the property management and housing side of our business. We’re currently getting ready to build the biggest building we’ve ever built. It’s an 8-story mass timber construction that will have 250 units. It’s really cool because it’s prefabricated in a way that makes it seem like a giant Lego set is being constructed before your very eyes. We’re very excited because it’s designed by the same architect who designed the interior of Venue; so, it’s going to be beautiful!

While 4M is in the process of tackling its largest project yet, Marge is also very happy that her other projects have grown in popularity within her community. It’s very common to see University of Michigan students eating at Venue, and just recently, over 75 neuroscience PhD recruits had dinner in the event space of the establishment. Venue has also been added to the preferred vendors list of caterers at the University of Michigan.

  • Margaret Poscher: Another exciting development is that we’ve been deemed a preferred vendor for catering at the University of Michigan. We are also trying to have our rental properties added to the preferred vendor list as well. So we are looking forward to feeding and housing the students and visitors of the university and the university hospital in the future.

6. Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share in conclusion about your business or your partnership with the bank? 

  • Margaret Poscher: Working with Mike and the Bank of Michigan has been instrumental in the success of my businesses. But beyond that, we really have developed a close friendship, and I look forward to continuing my relationship with them in the future.
  • Mike Chatas: I’ve had a great time partnering with Marge and 4M Consolidated Brands. They are probably the strongest partnership relationship I have. It’s great because they feel comfortable bouncing ideas off me; and vice versa. It’s a beneficial friendship that goes both ways, and that is a very rewarding feeling.

If someone would like to learn more about your business, where can they go?

If you would like to learn more about Marge and 4M Consolidated Brands, you can visit their website at: https://www.experience4m.com/. If you’re in Ann Arbor, be sure to visit Venue to enjoy its diverse menus, elevated style, and friendly atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a true banking partner like Marge to help your business grow, let us know. We’d love to learn more about your goals and dreams. Contact us or visit one of our Southeast Michigan banking locations and let’s have a conversation.

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