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Season 1

Marc Bushala

HigherGroundChi January 2, 2020 440 114 2


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How better does one develop an elite taste for entertainment than with a real-life story that could inspire a Hollywood blockbuster featuring Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a conspicuous Chicago high rise basement, and award-winning bourbon?

Like any good larger than life protagonist, Marc Bushala’s story begins in the most unlikely of places. Having just graduated from Miami University in Ohio and keen to develop his new business, Marc pitched his product to a prospective client – a large real estate firm.


His prospect was blunt in their disinterest of the business yet electrified by Marc himself. Instead of signing a new client, Marc would find himself with a job offer and a dilemma, pay his rent or continue risking it all in his venture.

A sensible man eager to make the responsible decision, Marc accepted the job.

Little did he know that this job opportunity would act as the catalyst to his future entrepreneurial ventures.

Before he knows it, his new job would be the reason for finding himself in Eastern Europe. At the time, the Berlin Wall has just fallen, and the area was ripe for rapid change and evolution of culture.

Marc’s position would have him searching for commercial real estate opportunities for large western companies looking to expand their operations into Eastern Europe.

While searching for a new bank branch for ING, Marc stumbled upon the most unlikely of places. Having met at a seemingly ordinary building, Marc and his guide unexpectedly descended the depths of the structure. Stair after stair led them deep beneath the surface before being greeted by a massive open space in what was formerly a bomb shelter for the city.

While his bank client would likely not be pleased with a brand deep underground, Marc was inspired.

His negotiations led to the opening of his first nightclub, Ground Zero, and the formation of his first entertainment company, Atomic.

Legends of their time, both ventures would grow into a thriving enterprise that would find Marc entertaining thousands nightly, negotiating TV deals, and gaining valuable real-life experience in entertainment while helping to define the Eastern European cultural scene.

Sometimes it is fate that leads to us to our destiny.

Marc couldn’t have ever dreamed of how this single opportunity would shape how he would leave his mark on culture in Eastern Europe, the United States, and the City of Chicago.

Today Marc’s ventures can be enjoyed across the country. Notably in Chicago, Mark replicated the success of his underground European nightclub with several Kinzie Street classics.

However, it is his expansion into the world of whiskey that has come to define Marc’s reputation for producing quality products backed by incredible teams.

Marc led the creation of artisan small-batch bourbon with the iconic brand Angles Envy. Riding high on the near-instant success of this liquid gold, Marc sold the business to Bacardi just four years after launch.

Today, Marc is the brainchild and brand craftsman of the most awarded whiskey to date, Heavens Door. Creating in collaboration with Bob Dylan, this Tennessee stable has redefined what it means to experience whiskey.

In this podcast, you’re invited to go on a whirlwind of an adventure into the wild twists and turns that have guided this Chicago icon to discover the nuances of entertaining his public. Discover where you can experience his unique style and vision and what the future holds for our guest, Marc Bushala.

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