Borrowed Bars are a spring party must-have

Founder Marla Bergh offers custom tap walls

After a long winter of hunkering down, Wisconsinites are ready to party come spring. For those throwing a special spring or summer fling — think graduation shindigs, birthday celebrations, baby showers and outdoor weddings — there is a new party prop in town: a customizable tap wall from Borrowed Bar.

Founded by photographer and Food Court Agency creative director Marla Bergh, Borrowed Bar offers several options for custom tap walls for parties and events where guests can pour their own drinks. Bergh says she came up with the idea for Borrowed Bar last spring when she was at a backyard graduation party and noticed how disheveled it was with beer cans and empty glasses strewn about the yard. “The next day I was scrolling through a wedding website and I saw a photo of this awesome thing at a reception — someone had a wall with a tap handle on it,” Bergh says. “You could tell it was homemade, like someone’s dad had made it.”
Borrowed Bars are a spring party must-have

After trying to research the tap wall idea by scouring wedding and party websites, Bergh could not find anything like the wall she had seen in the photograph. “This has to be a thing!” Bergh recalls thinking. That night she stayed up until 4 a.m. researching how to recreate it by looking up YouTube videos on how to make a kegerator. When Bergh’s husband Adam woke up at 6 a.m., she excitedly told him about the idea. He agreed to give the business idea a go, “because it had to do with beer,” Bergh says with a laugh.

Bergh began working on branding and jumped at the name ‘Borrowed Bar’ when it came up. The first Borrowed Bar tap wall debuted at Revel, a downtown Craft Bar and event space. It was for Revel’s first anniversary party last June, and guests poured themselves Prosecco from the tap wall painted gold for the occasion. Since that time, Borrowed Bar has appeared at about 12 events, including a Camp Wandawega wedding (where the wall was covered in a buffalo checkered print), a seafood boil, a Packers-themed birthday party and the grand opening party for Industrious, a downtown co-working office space. At the grand opening for Industrious, which has a bee logo, guests served themselves a signature Bee’s Knees cocktails provided by the Robin Room.

Bergh isn’t a licensed alcohol provider yet, so Borrowed Bar provides the wall, drip tray and tap — including the Co2 system — but not the beverages. Party planners can choose from several different tap wall options, including a full bar, and walls can be painted, covered with vinyl and embellished with decorations like stenciling, flowers and even macrame.

“It really becomes a conversation piece,” Bergh says. She hopes to double or triple the number of events from last year’s party season, and she’s willing to travel around the state and to the Twin Cities and Chicago for a delivery fee.

“The tap wall does well in any environment where the guest can get her or his own drink,” says Bergh. “Any situation where you would normally have a keg sitting on the ground that you are pumping you would swap for the tap wall. I think it’s a unique and memorable approach to serving beverages.”