The Porter Beer Bar’s fall salad includes mixed greens, vanilla-poached quince, Gorgonzola cheese, pecans and ice wine vinaigrette. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
When I talked with Gunn in April for a story about how beer bars were responding to the pandemic, she and Rutherford were running the Porter by themselves, as a takeout-only operation. They were “doing OK,” she said. But, when I checked in last week, Gunn was a bit more upbeat.
“In June we brought back two full-time employees,” she said. “Since August, we’ve had four full-time employees, and sometimes a prep cook.”
While things still are difficult as far as the bottom line, for the most part Gunn feels like she’s been able to navigate the business side with some sense of certainty, and a touch of black humor.
“We’re extremely lucky that our landlady has continued to work with us,” she said. “She doesn’t have a mortgage on the building, and she’s in touch with reality. That’s our biggest fixed cost, and she’s made it scalable. Nick and I were able to start paying ourselves in the fall, which is huge. And, at this point, I feel fairly confident that everyone in Georgia will die before our governor will shut us down.”
The Porter Beer Bar’s double smashed patty melt is made with two beef patties, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and rye bread. It comes with a side of sweet potato waffle fries. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
That aside, Gunn realizes that, whatever happens, customers will decide the future of the Porter.
“My customer base is very nervous,” she said. “When the numbers go up, it doesn’t matter if there’s not a shutdown. If I have no customers, I’m essentially shut down. At some point, when you lose enough customers, you just have to readjust to the level of the business again. But, fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. We haven’t had to go back to takeout-only, or anything like that.”
Gunn is hoping things may return to some sense of normalcy by summer 2021. And, like so many people, she’s looking forward to the return of live music and theater at venues like Variety Playhouse and Seven Stages.
“It’s the reason to deal with the insane parking situation we have, and all the irritations of Little Five Points,” she said. “People are willing to put up with all that for that experience. I want it to be like it was, when there was a sold-out Variety Playhouse show.”
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THE PORTER BEER BAR
Menu: pub grub classics
Alcohol: full bar with beer, wine and cocktails; beer and wine to go, including cellar selections
What I ordered: fall salad with mixed greens, vanilla-poached quince, Gorgonzola cheese, pecans and ice wine vinaigrette; fish and chips with beer-battered cod, Belgian fries, pickled green tomato tartar sauce and malt vinegar; double smashed patty melt with two Painted Hills beef patties, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, rye bread and a big side of sticky, spicy sweet potato waffle fries. Everything was excellent, and well-packaged in individual containers. I was surprised by how well the fish and chips traveled.
Service options: indoor or outdoor dining; takeout; order takeout online or by phone
Outdoor dining: sidewalk patio with up to 30 seats
Mask policy: employees wear masks
Address, phone: 156 Euclid Ave., Atlanta; 404-223-0393
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays, noon-midnight Fridays-Saturdays, noon-10 p.m. Sundays; open 4 p.m.-1a.m. New Year’s Eve and 5 p.m.-midnight New Year’s Day
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