Summerhill taproom lets restaurant neighbors use its rooftop

Greg Best of How Crispy Express uses a plastic bucket to lower an order to a customer. CONTRIBUTED BY HALFWAY CROOKS
Caption
Greg Best of How Crispy Express uses a plastic bucket to lower an order to a customer. CONTRIBUTED BY HALFWAY CROOKS

Halfway Crooks Beer opened in Atlanta's historic Summerhill neighborhood in June, 2019. The brewery, co-founded by Shawn Bainbridge and Joran Van Ginderachter with co-owner Tim Kilic, offered beer by the glass or growler in its inviting storefront taproom, plus snacks from a small kitchen, while the covered rooftop patio, with views of the Atlanta skyline, often was crowded on the weekends.

Less than a year later, the pandemic forced Halfway Crooks to make some major changes. While the business had to lay off most of its staff in mid-April, cutting the team down to four people, Bainbridge said, since then they’ve been able to bring back some part-time production staff, and added another full-time person to work the front of the house.

This takeout order included How Crispy chicken nuggets and a can of Halfway Crooks ADA Pilsner. CONTRIBUTED BY SHARIF HASSAN
Caption
This takeout order included How Crispy chicken nuggets and a can of Halfway Crooks ADA Pilsner. CONTRIBUTED BY SHARIF HASSAN

Because the owners invested in a canning line early on, the brewery was able to switch quickly over to producing more beer to go, packaged in four-packs of 16-ounce cans. Specialties include German-style lager and American-style pale ale and IPA. The kitchen also has expanded the menu steadily, to include the likes of chicken wings, a steamed burger with fries, a Cuban sandwich, and an all-beef hot dog.

Another new wrinkle is a collaboration with How Crispy Express, a new quick-service restaurant from a team that includes Greg Best of Ticonderoga Club and chef William Silbernagel, that was slated to start construction directly across Georgia Avenue prior to the pandemic. Now, Sundays through Tuesdays, How Crispy has taken over the Halfway Crooks rooftop. And, in a clever take on social distancing, it's serving chicken sandwiches and nuggets by lowering to-go orders down to the sidewalk in a bucket.

Halfway Crooks’ steamed cheeseburger is made with local Evergreen Butcher and Baker ground chuck. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Caption
Halfway Crooks’ steamed cheeseburger is made with local Evergreen Butcher and Baker ground chuck. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

“Basically, our whole thing got put on pause,” Best said, “but we had done a couple of preview events in the Halfway Crooks taproom to start teasing the neighborhood, and our plan was to design a custom sandwich specifically for the brewery. So, early on, we kind of became partners in crime.

“Because the Halfway Crooks guys are very similar to us, in that we’re all just a little irreverent, and we want to have fun and bring some humor to all this, rather than all the doom and gloom, we designed the bucket drop,” he added.

Bainbridge agreed that it was a fun idea, but said it can be hectic, too. “We’re kind of pushing the limits of this small kitchen,” he said, “but we’re still humming along, and, so far, it’s still sustainable.”

As a caveat, though, Bainbridge noted that the Halfway Crooks team would need to consider its next move seriously.

Halfway Crooks lemon pepper chicken wet wings and ADA German-style Pilsner are available for takeout. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Caption
Halfway Crooks lemon pepper chicken wet wings and ADA German-style Pilsner are available for takeout. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

“We’ve seen a decrease in sales the past couple of weeks,” he said. “We think that’s definitely due to (other taprooms reopening), and that’s actually a big deal. People are starting to go out again. That forces other businesses to make hard decisions about reopening their taprooms or restaurants. Now, we have to think about opening our rooftop, and we’re not very comfortable with that. That’s why we’re continuing to do what we’re doing right now, and then we’ll just see how it goes.”

Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

HALFWAY CROOKS BEER

Menu: authentic Belgian fries with stewed meat sauce; wings; steamed cheeseburger; hot dogs; cheddarwurst; rotating sandwiches and snacks, featuring local purveyors and ingredients

What's new: Upcoming Summerhill restaurant How Crispy Express has taken up residency on the rooftop, noon-2 p.m. Sundays, and 4-8 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays.

Alcohol: Halfway Crooks beer to go, in cans and growlers.

What I ordered: Halfway Crooks eight-piece lemon pepper wet wings, and steamed cheeseburger with fries; How Crispy chicken sandwich and chicken nuggets; ADA German Pilsner four-pack. All items were packaged in cardboard to-go boxes, and beer was wiped down before it was a handed to me. It all traveled well. The tangy wings, with carrots, celery and blue cheese, and the hefty chicken sandwich, topped with herby spread and pickles, were the hits. Next time, I'd scarf down the burger in the car, while it was still hot and juicy.

Service options: to-go sales only; call ahead or line up with social distancing to order and pick up at the brewery

Safety protocols: following CDC guidelines; staff wears masks and gloves; sanitizing all surfaces, including to-go beer cans and growlers

Address, phone: 60 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta; 678-705-5530

Hours: food and beer pickup, noon-8 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; beer pickup only, 4-8 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays

Websitehalfwaycrooks.beer

RELATED:

ExploreRead more Atlanta Orders In 
ExploreCOVID-19 threatens booming beer business in Georgia
ExploreHow Atlanta’s brewery taprooms are opening, again
ExploreCOVID-19 challenges breweries to survive and do good

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.