Lessons from a good professor, golf, and inspiration from his alma mater’s beloved motto, “Having light we pass it on to others,” led Todd Gailar, Wittenberg class of 1996, to establish The Acres two years ago with Corey Myers, class of 2004.
Located in the Village of Evendale outside Cincinnati, Ohio, The Acres features a driving range, mini-golf course, restaurant, and bar, as well as an interesting history, having been the site of a vintage driving range for 70 years before the purchase.
“We wanted to create a reason for people to stick around,” Gailar said.
They appear to have succeeded.
Gailar graduated with a B.A. in business management and was involved with Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, the Interfraternity Council, and The Wittenberg Torch student-run newspaper. During his time at Wittenberg, he enjoyed playing golf, but drifted away from the game while he pursued careers in sales, non-profit work, and commercial banking.
Golf returned into his life in a more prominent way during COVID, however. Without travel available, Gailar found himself as a recurring guest at the local driving range. Out of curiosity and business interest, he asked the owner one day if he would be willing to sell this business to him. The owner had planned on turning the property over to contractors who would not continue to host the driving range. Because it was a classic establishment in the community, though, the owner decided against that path and told Gailar that he would call him if he changed his mind. Todd was unsure if he would, but then he received the call: it was his.
Upon taking ownership, Gailar was intent on making improvements. He developed a business plan and hired an architect to map out the renovations he planned on making. He referenced a few books from his Witt days throughout the process, and his in-depth planning allowed him to secure a Small Business Administration loan. Along with these funds, he raised money with future business partner Myers. Renovations on the property included cleaning and landscaping the current driving range and mini-golf course, and obtaining a building permit for a restaurant.
Myers graduated from Wittenberg with a B.A. in science in biology/chemistry, where he was involved in basketball, rugby, new student orientation, and the Outdoors Club. Myers’ entry into the business venture came at an unexpected, yet perfect time. Gailar had been coaching his daughter’s youth soccer team while laying out his business plan. As he discussed this plan, another coach overheard this conversation, which sparked his interest and led him to invite Gailar out for dinner and a beer. That coach was Corey Myers. From that point, they decided that their partnership would be of mutual benefit. The two had never formally met before this conversation, so they researched each other afterward only to discover that they both had graduated from Wittenberg. This was a surprise for both, but one that made them believe even more that they were meant to share this project together.
“Corey brought an energy to this project that made me even more motivated,” Gailar said. Together, the two Tiger alumni created a renovated establishment that helped bond the community around them, thanks to additions that included the restaurant and bar.
To create meaning in the bar, Gailar explained that the beer they bring in is selected based on the story each beer brings to the table. A community favorite is Mother Stewart’s, which has a rich history in Springfield, Ohio, and with Wittenberg as it was founded by John Loftis, class of 1994, and Kevin Loftis, who also attended the University.
Reflecting on his time at Wittenberg, Gailar recalled a unique project that foreshadowed his creation of The Acres. His class with Professor Emerita of Management Pam Schindler required students to create a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on a local business. Gailar chose Udders and Putters in Yellow Springs, a family-centered restaurant and recreation area complete with mini golf, a driving range, batting cages, and more. Part of Young’s Dairy, it is a place that current and former students know and love. That project introduced him to this type of business, which stuck with him for years to come.
“Professor Schindler was very engaged, thoughtful, and giving,” Gailar said, which was the reason she was one of his favorite professors. The faculty and staff weren’t the only part of the University that he carried with him after graduation, however. The institution’s motto of “Having light we pass it on to others” stuck with him, too, so much so that he used it in his business. He created two LLCs, which are named Having Light and Having Light Operations. These names serve as a reminder of why he created The Acres: to pass on what he can provide for others.
Gailar’s endeavor is more than simply business for him; he has also found a purpose, one inspired by his youth coaching experiences. The Acres hires many high school and college-aged employees, which Gailar has helped guide in the world of customer service. His goal is to inspire them to find their own purpose, an approach similar to his own coaching perspective. This style of business is different from his previous experience in another way, too.
“Eighty percent of this job is connecting with people,” he said.
Reaching people through kindness and helping build a stronger sense of community have both gone a long way in the Village of Evendale, as well.
As for his advice to students, Gailar suggests the following:
- “Get involved in the classes you have an interest in and build relationships with those professors.” When reflecting on his own college experience, Gailar talked about how he wished he created stronger relationships with more of his professors, as those relationships can go a long way.
- “Build a network of friends – and protect it.” The importance of friendship and networking in Gailar’s experience cannot be ignored, as it changed his life. “You never know when you’ll interact with someone again, so doing something simple like writing what their name is and what you talked about can be important. Then, when you see them in the future, you remember something or a story about them,” Gailar said. To keep this network, continue making contact with these people periodically. Expanding one’s network is simple but can be uncomfortable, so “step out of your friend circle, and put yourself into new and uncomfortable situations.” Whether it be a neighborhood event or volunteer coaching, there are opportunities everywhere to meet new people and grow, he added, noting that he utilized these types of events to expand his network and create new friends.
- Story By Jack Houck ‘25