stay in your lane

Mo Hobgood has never met a stranger. A down-to-earth Kentucky girl, she embraces people from all walks of life and makes everyone feel right at home. She believes competition and variety are good things, and that we should all trust our natural-born talents. Or as she puts it — stay in your lane.

Meet Mo

I was born and raised in Henderson, Kentucky, so I’m a thoroughbred of sorts. I grew up in the downtown neighborhood, and when I was 10 we moved out to a 16-acre house. I always grew up with horses, running around, swimming, and was just outside all the time. My granddad had owned a bar forever. His name was Buckets, so the name of our LLC is Slot Bucket. When I was 18, my dad opened Big Daddy’s Boathouse downtown, which was also named after my granddad. So we kind of just had it in the family forever. It’s been in our blood — tavern and bourbon. It’s the Kentucky way I guess.

As the owner of a brand new business, what are the advantages and challenges of starting a business?   

I didn't have a bunch of huge hoops or anything to go through. Not to say that it’s been easy — I don’t think I’ve sat down in two months — but it’s really been a lot of fun learning all of those things. 

The one challenge that I’ve seen, is that a lot of people are kind of stuck in their ways. Like, thinking that if there’s one type of business here, then we don’t need anymore of that type of business. I guess as a competitive deal, which I think is not a very good way of thinking. Because the more businesses that you bring down here, the more people it brings. I think that a lot of people are very closed off to the idea of growing, thinking that it would hurt them whereas I don’t think they see that it would actually help them. The more people you have down here, it’s only going to be better for all of us. Open up 15 more bars down here; I think it would be awesome.

How do you see the food scene in Evansville changing?

That has been really interesting, because in Evansville you have to have food to serve alcohol. Well, we have our bar snacks – different popcorns and things that we’ve made. So it’s this new thing and people are like — "What do we do? What are we supposed to eat?" Well, you can eat anything. Bring it in; pack a lunch, bring it in.

I’m a big advocate of staying in your lane — you don’t want me cooking for you. Sauced, Dapper Pig, Walton’s – those guys absolutely know what they’re doing. They cook for a living and their food is awesome! So we definitely want to pull them in and have everybody order from there. 

Another thing I'd like to see change is, there’s a lot of people in parts of our neighborhood that can’t afford to eat at the places that are down here. So I think it would be fantastic to have a food truck lot for the people that do live down here but can’t afford to eat at the higher priced restaurants. We should be accommodating these people as well. If you grow as a community with things that everyone can do and come to, then everyone feels included. It’s only going to bring more people down here; it’s not going to hurt anyone. To me, you can never have enough varieties and options for everyone. 

I’m a big advocate of staying in your lane — you don’t want me cooking for you.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?

My advice to them would be to never question yourself. I found that a couple years ago when I was questioning everything that I was doing, I was miserable in my life. I was not myself. I was questioning what I believed and very much questioning myself where I should not have. Finally, I started saying, “You know what, I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m gonna do it how I want.” That would be my biggest thing. Oh, and as an entrepreneur, take care of your feet cause your feet get you everywhere you need to go. If you don’t take care of your feet, you ain't gonna get anywhere. So those are my two things: take care of your feet and never question yourself.

What do you love most about living in Evansville?

The thing I love most in Evansville, would probably be the people. I have really enjoyed the people here. With bartending you meet all sorts of people. You’re kind of a therapist in a sense. The amount of support and kind of craving for artisan cocktails and what I’ve been doing has just been awesome. That has been truly, truly awesome. Everyone has been nothing but kind and nice.

What assumptions have we made about life in Evansville that we need to test?

What is your vision of Evansville in 1 year? In 5 years?

Five years ago, Evansville was 10 years behind. Now, Evansville is only 2 years behind bigger cities. It’s a work in progress; it sure doesn’t happen overnight and we’ll always be growing and changing. I think things like young people starting new businesses — you’ve got folks like Steadfast Media and River City Mercantile with Heather and Clint. I feel like they were game changers. I mean, it is hard work, but we need those young people in town to make waves and make moves and start new things. And don’t be scared to have an idea and go for it. Someone’s always willing to say yes.

What does “e is for everyone” mean to you?

I think “e is for everyone” is right on track with what we’ve talked about this whole time — of just encouraging people to not be scared and include everyone. Don’t be so standoffish to new ideas. Just because it hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. New things are what we need. 

How do you define success?

Happiness. If you are miserable in life, you will not be successful. If you surround yourself with people that are negative all the time, then you’re standing in the rain. You might have an umbrella, but you’re still standing in the rain. If you surround yourself with people that are rainbows and sunshine, then you’re gonna have a good day. So definitely surround yourself with people who encourage you, keep you pushing to do big things, and you will be successful.

What do you know for sure?

That bourbon is good. Great friends are better. And a happy life is a good life.

Bonus Feature: The Story Behind 1114 Parrett Street