There’s nothing like that first sip of an expertly crafted brew. Whether you idolize an IPA, love a light lager, appreciate an amber ale, or delight in the dark side with a porter or stout, you’re part of a worldwide community united by craft beer. What makes or breaks an experience though is not the beer or cocktails — it’s the people who serve it to you.
NoFo opened in Cumming, Georgia, known and loved as North Forsyth, on September 27th, 2019, and gave our community a place to gather over a pint. From the very beginning, NoFo’s owners promised their number one priority would always be the people. Shortly after celebrating our third anniversary, we present the Culture Shock series, where we will introduce several of our long-time team members and their experience as part of NoFo.
Ever since the first pint I poured as a bartender on opening night, I knew NoFo was different. I walked in expecting a part-time bartending job, but I quickly found my favorite place to gather with friends, family, or have a minute to unwind from my full-time job. Many of the original staff still here today (Jonny, Jake, Justin, Jenny, and Chris) would become great friends.
I’ve worked in a handful of bars and restaurants, all with the typical service industry business model that accepts employee turnover as a given. They’re usually staffed with team members who burn out quickly or don’t get along — and as a guest, you can always tell. NoFo, however, prioritizes employees’ quality of life and actively works not only to retain staff but also to build careers. So in February 2022, I quit my full-time job in the mental health field and completely pivoted my career path to work with NoFo full-time — all because of the culture.
Until NoFo, I never realized how incredibly important a healthy work culture is to me as an employee. Not only do I love NoFo for the environment, which highlights a spirit of adventure, but since day one, NoFo has produced exceptional beers. Our original four beers are still strong fan-favorites today: Apres Vous, On Belay, My Porter Boy, and Diversion (now, known and loved as Yonah Live Once). In the past three years, we’ve made over 425 batches of beer. And now, after months of us begging the owners to bring in whiskey, NoFo also has some incredible craft cocktails. Let me tell you, if you haven’t tried a craft cocktail yet, you’re missing out!
For those of you who may not have made it to NoFo yet (ummm…what’s taking you so long?!), I want to tell you about NoFo’s core convictions for two reasons:
1) These core convictions were one of the many reasons why I fell in love with working for NoFo.
2) It’s kind of my job. No, really. I love NoFo’s culture so much that it is literally my job. As the Director of HR and Culture, it’s my responsibility to make sure that in this season of growth (y’all heard about our second location in Gainesville, right?!), our culture doesn’t falter. So, let’s dive in. Get your notebooks out — there may be a quiz at the end.
I am a firm believer in each of NoFo’s core convictions. In fact, I remember a couple months after opening, the owners, Joe, Bryan and Shannon, asked the taproom staff to make a list of words we associate with NoFo and words that mean something to us to help influence the final list. This is what we came up with.
NoFo’s five core convictions are:
Community – love our team, our neighbors, and where we live
Hospitality – deliver personalized service and attention
Adventurous – imagine what’s possible and go experience it
Unique – pursue a fresh and creative approach to all that we do
Camaraderie – mutual trust, mutual friendship
To reiterate, this list came from NoFo team members. Rather than establishing priorities based on what’s important to the owners or shareholders (like most companies), NoFo asked for feedback from everyone on the team. We defined these as our top five convictions that are now painted in our team’s break room.
Throughout this blog series, I’d love to take you all on an adventure to get to know not only NoFo’s culture, but also the people behind the bar, brewing the beer, distilling the liquor, and maybe you’ll even get a little taste of what is to come. So, kick back, pop open that Snow Ghost crowler or if you happen to be in the taproom, join me for a Collateral.