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Behind the Bar: Keeping Hospitality Alive at Home

Greg Engert, beer director of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, explains how their business—with 16 bars and restaurants plus a brewery in the D.C. area—is adapting to weather uncertain times.

Greg Engert Oct 8, 2020 - 8 min read

Behind the Bar: Keeping Hospitality Alive at Home Primary Image

A host greets guests on the patio of the Grand Delancey in New York City. Photo: Courtesy Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

Last issue, I wrote about the pandemic, sketching out ideas of a new normal and prognosticating about a future I hoped would be short-lived. (See Sketching Out the new ‘Normal’ for Hospitality.) As time has gone on, so has COVID-19, and each day brings further evidence of the unbridled nature of the virus. Business conditions remain bleak for breweries, bars, restaurants, and retail shops.

Reopenings have yielded limited on-premise opportunities. The public remains wary of the disease and cautious with their finances. Landlords are losing their patience, and changes to government assistance programs threaten to dismantle our industry once and for all. The heat is on, and it outlasted the summer.

My company, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has applied for each and every grant we could find, received PPP loans, negotiated with our landlords, and done just about everything to extend the lives of our businesses and keep as many of our employees at work as possible. We have survived, so far, and—while we know that our company and our furloughed employees will need more assistance—we have found some success during this disaster that keeps me hopeful.


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Greg Engert is beer director of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, whose bars and restaurants include ChurchKey, Rustico, and the Bluejacket brewery, among others.