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How This Entrepreneur Reworked His Business Idea in the Face of Financial Armageddon

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This story appears in the March 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The financial crisis of 2008 changed everything. Michael Dorf, who founded legendary rock venue the Knitting Factory in 1986, was just three months away from opening a combined winery and music club in Manhattan that would feature visible steel fermenting tanks and a refined dining experience. Dorf anticipated bankers buying wines by the barrel.

Chad Batka
Feast for the senses: Live jazz caps an evening at City Winery’s New York club.

But the subprime mortgage crisis doused those expectations. "We were not only in financial Armageddon, but there was such a reversal in big spending and ostentatious behavior," Dorf says. "It became taboo."

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