GREENSBORO, N.C. — Chris Lester didn’t see himself as a pioneer of the Triad’s craft beer industry. It just turned out that way.
He and some business partners owned three bar-and-grills in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it all came together.
“We were just going to make beer for the three bar and grills and make beer for ourselves and have a nice, community place downtown. And then the brand just kind of took a life of its own,” Chris said.
That brand definitely stays close to home by design.
“I think it’s just a Greensboro, community brand. That’s what we hope to be,. That’s our aspiration,” Chris said. “We do Buckshot Amber Ale, our Wildflower Wit and our Southern Pale Ale are staples. You can find them in all of the grocery stores.”
But that’s not where you’ll find the best, Natty’s experience.
“Nothing’s better than tasting the beer right out of the brewery. Nothing’s fresher than that,” Chris said.
Natty’s was on the verge of a monumental moment in its 16-year history. The main location in downtown Greensboro was completely redone.
The building dates to 1895 and Chris felt it needed an update.
“It’s still a historic landmark. And we still try to stay true to the building,” Chris said.
It wasn’t cheap and just as they were about to unveil it, the coronavirus pandemic shut all those restaurants and pubs down.
“My wife and I, we just finished a renovation of this space and literally put our life savings into this renovation, hoping to do really well, especially in the month of March,” Chris said. “We thought this could be our best March in history: the opening of the Tanger center, both the women’s and men’s ACC tournaments, the NCAA tournament, tons of stuff at the Greensboro Aquatics Center.”
Now, they’re hoping to survive if the state government allows establishments like theirs to reopen in Phase II of the planned process.
See the renovations and why Chris Lester did them in this Small Business Spotlight.