Dirty Dishing: ChurchKey’s Greg Engert and His Beery Brouhaha

Tragicomic insider stories about the trials, tribulations, and just plain weird stuff that happens when you run a restaurant.

There’s a lot of red tape that needs to be cut through before you can open a restaurant. ChurchKey’s beer baron Greg Engert knows this better than most. When it came time to open the hoppy hangout on the 14thStreet corridor in October 2009, he had to deal with a blizzard of bureaucracy in the final days before opening. Eateries need to pass their health inspection in order to get their liquor license. Only after that crucial piece of paperwork is in hand can they stock any booze. For a place that planned on offering more than 500 different kinds of beer, this necessary chain of events presented a unique pain in the ass.

ChurchKey passed its health inspection on a Friday, which meant that they couldn’t get their liquor license until after the weekend. When that was finally obtained late in the day on Monday, Engert called the beer distributors, who already had everything loaded and ready to go. Within minutes, eight trucks were lined up on the curb holding 150 different kegs, 12 kinds of casks, and over 600 cases of beer. “I overbought,” Engert admits now. “When you’re stocking, you’re like a kid in a candy store sometimes. You’re thinking, ‘Oh, I gotta get that and I can’t miss that.’”

Since there are two flights up to where the kegs were to be stored, they had to be winched upstairs. This took the rest of Monday and well into the next day. Stocking had to be halted on Tuesday, so the staff could run through a mock service. Later that night, the sorting and storing of the bottled beers began. “It took hours just to find some of the stuff,” says Engert. “If a distributor drops off 120 cases with a three-foot long invoice, it’s hard to find that one weird beer from Norway with a strange name. It was insane.”

Finish reading this story on CityEats’ Plate blog now.

Photo courtesy of ChurchKey.

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