Nick has been talking about a restaurant bubble for a while now. It seems like more restaurants opened in 2016 than ever before, and not just corner cafés or pizza shops, note worthy restaurants with name brand chefs and cool concepts.
So it was nice to get some validation in this thrillist article.
I highly recommend reading it if you are in or connected to the restaurant industry in anyway.
I think Atlanta’s bubble will continue for longer than the bubble in San Francisco mostly because our labor costs have not been forced higher through regulation only a tight labor market. Everyone I know is trying to find cooks, decent cooks, who will show up on time and work hard and fast when it’s busy.
We aren’t new at 8 years old, but we also are not struggling. I’d like to say we are an aspiring institution. I think we offer a unique experience and atmosphere, one that only gets better with age. We are not the hottest new concept (poke ramen cocktail bar), but that’s comforting to me. Trends change, but beer, beer will be here forever. Eventually folks will have tried all the new restaurants and it will be time for them to come back to their tried and true old favorites.
Babette’s Café where I had my first job just turned 24 and is still kicking along just fine thankyouverymuch! So I’m looking forward to at least another sixteen years, baby!
Bring on the bursting bubble!
It will make the good restaurants stronger and weed out the weaker ones that you won’t miss anyway.
So while listening to Marketplace on NPR recently I heard an advertisement for a product that allowed small business owners to “focus on growing their business” and it made me wonder, is “growing your business” always the goal for small business owners?
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some very specifics ways I would love to grow our business. I would love to sell more $50 dollar vintage beers to guests to who really appreciate the time and effort it takes to create a vintage list like ours.
But I am not interested in growing our business in other ways, for example, by adding catering sales or more locations.
Those things would probably help our bottom line. But there’s a formula of sorts for time vs. money. You can make almost infinite amounts of money, but time is limited.
To do more catering business would take an enormous amount of time for Nick and I, because catering is incredibly different from running a restaurant and in some ways is more difficult in our opinion. A second location adds a whole other set of headaches and also requires an entirely different skill set than running one location.
Even though it’s been almost eight years, some days I feel like we are just getting good at running The Porter.
In America I think it can be difficult to be satisfied. Our culture screams, “Bigger! Better! More! More! More!” And in business there is a certain ethos that your are either growing or shrinking, maintaining is not an option.
It is not enough to simply sit on your laurels, restaurants must evolve to stay relevant, but that doesn’t mean we need to open a new location to continue to evolve. In fact, not opening additional locations has allowed us to focus on our brand and continuing to define and refine it. With each year there are more things The Porter doesn’t do that sets us apart as well as new things we try. For example we used to do pint nights, but we found people are not really drawn to free boring shaker pint glasses. It’s not special enough for us or our guests.
A new thing this year has been our slushie machine. Nick and Chris saw Omnipollo making Slushie Beer Toppers at the Copenhagen Beer Celebration and they immediately thought ” let’s do that!” Voila! The slushie beer topper was born at The Porter, and had been a big hit this summer.
So yes, maybe we are “growing our business,” but in our own way, The Porter’s way.
We can’t believe we made it seven years! It seems like yesterday we opened with a bunch of keg boxes and buffalo quail wings on the menu. What? I know, it was a crazy time.
Every year we try to get a little bit better. This year we started making our own burger buns, brioche, naan and pretzels!
We started cleaning our own beer lines a while ago, but this year we got serious and stopped letting anyone else do it!
But it isn’t always about change, we still have four fabulous original employees! Along with many more that have been more more than 5 years! And man do we love that.
The anniversary bash is Saturday, September 12th. We will have an epic draft list for opening at 11am. The first 100 guests get a great gift! So come early and plan to stay late!
This year we will also feature an Oatmeal Beer Brunch on the 13th after the big party. Tons of Oatmeal and brunch appropriate beers (Donut Break, anyone?)
Always an awesome time, Saturday we will be celebrating 6 years!
Stay tuned for fun pictures of that day!
It’s with a heavy heart that we say good bye to Dale Ralston, who had been with us through thick and thin for the last five and half years! Dale started as a server in September 2008 and became a manager after 3 months. She has kept our spirits high and our sides hurting with her fabulous sense of humor. She is the artist behind our chalkboards and email newsletters. Dale will be greatly missed at The Porter Beer Bar.
The only thing keeping us from crying is that Dale is leaving to open her very own awesome bakery called La Calavera with her husband, Eric Arillo. It will be at 747 East College Avenue near Avondale in Decatur! They are shooting to open in March, but keep upto date with their fabulous website: http://lacalaverabakery.wordpress.com/
Dale and Eric (who is also the baker) have been selling bread at local farmers markets for two years now and are ready to get serious with their very own storefront. We wish them the best of luck!
Can you believe it? 5 years!! It’s gone so fast and yet I feel like we’ve been here forever. I am proud to say we still have 6 original employees, who have been with us for 5 years! That’s 17% of 35 total employees! not bad for a beer bar!
So what has changed in 5 years?
We went from 19 drafts to 44!
We’ve gone from 100 bottles to over 800!
We added the vintage list and our fabulous private beer cellar!
We’ve been the best beer bar in the country in 2012 & 2011 according to ratebeer.com!
We’ve been a semi-finalist for Best Bar Program by James Beard foundation in 2012 & 2013!
And in 2013 we were featured on The Layover w/ Anthony Bourdain!
It’s been a good five years and with luck we will be looking at another good give years ahead!
Molly & Nick
P.S. Just for fun is our opening draft list below:
Allagash White Portland, ME 12oz/5% $4.00
coriander and orange with a creamy body
Wyder’s Dry Raspberry Cider Canada 12oz/5% $3.00
fruity nose, tart fresh raspberry flavor, the perfect farewell to summer
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale Athens, GA 16oz/7.4% $3.75
mellow pale ale with subtle rye flavor and a touch of hops
SweetWater 420 (Extra Pale Ale) Atlanta, GA 16oz/5.4% $3.75
an Atlanta classic, hoppy, but balanced
Weyerbacher Hops Infusion Easton, PA 12oz/6.2% $3.00
nice citrus upfront, with grass in the middle and earth in the finish
He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. Saratoga, NY 12oz/10% $5.00
copper/red color, citrusy hops with toffee finish
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA Milton, DE 12oz/6% $4.00
spicy citrus with conifer notes, heady nose
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA Milton, DE 12oz/9% $5.00
dark for an IPA, with a dried fruit richness to balance the intense grapefruit hops
La Chouffe Belgium .3L/8% $6.00
opaque golden color, touch of cinnamon with stone fruit flavors
Delirium Tremens Belgium .25L/9% $6.00
golden yellow, banana bread in a glass!
St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgium .25L/10.5% $6.00
soft and warm at first like a chocolate kit kat, but with a roar like a lion
Terrapin Indian Brown Ale Athens, GA 16oz/6.2% $3.75
chestnut colored, hops cut the richness
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter Frederick, MD 12oz/7.8% $5.00
black in color, but sweet like cream n’ sugared coffee
Highland Oatmeal Porter Asheville, NC 16oz/5.8% $4.50
black with hints of chocolate, touch of hops
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Denver, CO 16oz/9.5% $5.25
oak, vanilla, chocolate, roasted coffee (did we mention delicious?)
Brasserie des Rocs Triple Impériale Belgium .3L/10% $7.00
dates, milk chocolate with plum finish
Spaten Optimator Germany 12oz/7.2% $3.75
doppelbock goodness, dark with roasty malt flavor
Uinta XIV Anniversary Barley Wine Salt Lake City, UT 12oz/9.8% $4.00
burnt caramel, dried fig, toffee notes
Weyerbacher Autumn Fest Easton, PA 12oz/6.1% $4.00
amber color, cinnamon caramel malts, restrained
As the year comes to a close (or the world depending on who you talk to) I try to take the time to reflect on everything we got done this year. 2012 was a big one for us. We added a vintage list and the space to store all those delicious beers. We got a new draft system, new organizational system and a new lease on life. All the bottles are in one place now (thank god!) We gained two new managers: Welcome Todd Derickson, our beloved and much missed sous-chef (we can’t wait until January, come back sooner!) and Joe Bagnell, our new front of the house manager, hailing from New Jersey. All and all I can say 2012 was a good year for us. Looking forward into 2013, there are still a few more updates we’d like to make, but mostly be are going to enjoy how far we’ve come (and try and save some $$$) We hope to see you all during the next couple of weeks for some holiday cheer!
We will be open until 6pm on Christmas Eve and we will open at 5pm on Christmas day!
NEw Years Day 11am-4pm brunch, open until midnight.
We have been incredibly lucky at The Porter to have had a very low staff turn over since opening. So when we do lose someone, we try to be thoughtful and careful about whom we hire to fill the empty spot. Sometimes when you’re short staffed and feeling the pressure on the schedule, it can lead you to jump to conclusions and hire someone too fast who turns out to not be right, which is the worst! Disciplining and terminating employees is everyone’s least favorite management job. Currently for the front of the house, an applicant has to have two interviews with two different managers and then does a stage for a few hours. (Stage is when you work for free like a try-out, to see the applicant in action) Usually this narrows the crowd from the slackers to the truly dedicated, but some times hard work and a love of beer is not enough. I’ve hired staff who simply were never going to be fast enough or multi-tasking enough to keep up with service at The Porter. There are certain things that are innate (like timing) which I can’t teach you. In that case, it’s time to fire fast. If it’s within the first 90 days, it’s as easy as saying “This isn’t a good fit.” any longer and I have to document the staff member’s failing and counsel them on improving and then document if they actually do improve! Whew, just thinking about the paperwork is making me tired. But that’s why you hire slow and fire fast!