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East County Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2019 7 months ago

New Bradenton business plans to host weddings, special events

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The East County entrepreneur "just happens to have ALS."
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Lake Club's Kevin Swan will not let ALS stymie his entrepreneurial spirit.

With his wife, Shaina as his business partner, Swan is planning to build a "barn" to host weddings, business luncheons and special events on the north end of Rye Road in East County. He has purchased five acres and now is going through the permitting process.

While the new business will be a nice venue for Swan to host events for his A Life Story Foundation, he said the venture definitely is a personal business project, not affiliated with his nonprofit. 

"One of the biggest challenges of ALS is the financial strain it puts on families," Swan said. "Between the medicine and cost of caregivers, it probably runs close to $100,000 a year. If it weren't for my parents, I would not be able to live."

Kevin Swan said his events building will seat a maximum of 275 people.

Swan said Shaina came up with the idea after they became engaged and started to look for a venue for their wedding.

"We live in such a beautiful area, but the options seemed scarce," he said. "The beach sounds great until you start looking at logistics. We are not the country club type and a hotel ballroom was just too expensive and restrictive. Then the light bulb moment happened. Let's build a barn."

The East County area certainly is limited in terms of venues that can host 250 guests or more. Swan said the way his facility has been designed, it would host a maximum of 275 guests. From a business standpoint, his new business would be facing limited competition for at least the big events.

The barn will be approximately 4,800 square feet.

"As a member of a couple of business organizations, I can tell you that there's a shortage of meeting spaces in the area," Swan said.

He said all the feedback coming from the research on his project has been positive.

"Everyone we have talked to about the project says, 'Oh, I wish it would have been available for our wedding, or, that would have been perfect for our parents' anniversary.'" 

Shaina Swan has experience as both a wedding planning and from working in the construction industry so Kevin Swan said his wife is excited about the project. He said she is both creative and crafty.

"I think she is more excited about the construction than she is about (hosting) the weddings," Kevin Swan said.

The business will be named "Monroe Manor" after the Swans' daughter, Elliott Monroe, who was born Feb. 21, 2018.

So why a barn and not a "hall."

"We wanted a unique venue with great curb appeal," Swan said. "The barn will have a refined rustic appeal with great bones. We think it's so important that a bride or event planer is able to create their vision. Whether it is a little bit country or black tie, the space will be able to  be transformed."

Although the property is five acres, Swan said he doesn't foresee using most of the land for outdoor activities, other than those associated with wedding ceremonies.

Swan said he currently is looking for a director for the foundation. He will still be heavily involved in his nonprofit, but it will free some of his time to pursue his business interests.

"I am excited about the opportunity to not only provide for my family, but to defy the odds," Swan said. "I have always been extremely motivated to be successful. I have been so proud of the work A Life Story Foundation has done over the past seven years, but I can't wait to do something that has nothing to do with ALS. I would like to be seen as a successful entrepreneur who just happens to have ALS. Shaina and I both have hospitality backgrounds and are so thrilled at the opportunity to create a beautiful space that will be home to so much love."  

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