Downtown Wichita Falls has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years, with new projects springing up on a regular basis, and new businesses opening their doors. A number of new restaurants and bars have breathed new life into long-shuttered buildings.
Dent Keltner, part-owner of the recently opened Half Pint Taproom and Restoration Hall, had a dream of bringing craft beer to Wichita Falls. A friend who was regularly in Denton for work would bring back beers that weren’t available in the Texoma area. "Craft beer was blowing up in the Metroplex," he said, and Dent was confident that he was not alone in wanting more beer options in Wichita Falls.
It took Dent and his partners over five years to realize this vision, and along the way, influenced by their purchase of an historic brick building downtown in 2012, the concept morphed from a beer shop to a large craft beer bar, complete with Neapolitan-style pizza on offer.
The building, formerly a thrift shop, was in rough shape. “The roof was leaking all over the place – it should have been abandoned,” Dent said. He and his business partners had a clear vision for the concept’s potential, but had spoken to four other banks about an SBA loan for the project, and had yet to find a bank who would work with them. Around that time, Paul Rodriguez, Vice President of the First Bank Lamar Street branch in downtown Wichita Falls, stopped by because he had heard about the project.
The conversation continued, and Dent, a first-time First Bank customer, began working with Paul and Jeff Taylor, Vice President of Commercial Lending, to put together an SBA loan package. While it was a time-consuming process typical of SBA loans, Dent conveyed that Paul and Jeff were very helpful along the way, often hand delivering paperwork to the site for him to sign. Upon approval of the loan, Dent was able to pull permits on June 1, 2017, and construction began in earnest.
Dent and his partners were proud to open the doors of Half Pint Taproom and Restoration Hall on December 4, 2017, and have been doing brisk business since then. Dent gives First Bank a lot of credit in helping to make his dream a reality. "They were willing to give us the time of day to look at our project and our projections in detail," he said. “It’s not like walking into a corporate bank. We have that local relationship, that local connection.”