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RH 25: Neighborhood Restaurant Group

The best and brightest restaurant companies are not just creating one great concept; they're creating many. See Restaurant Hospitality's picks for powerful multiconcept companies that not only play it cool, they kick ass. See all concepts >>

Chefs Tiffany Maclsaac, left, and Kyle Bailey

Headquarters: Alexandria, VA

Annual sales: $30-$50 million (estimated)

Units: 10

• Michael Babin, owner
• Tiffany Maclsaac, executive pastry chef of the group and the force behind GBD
• Kyle Bailey, executive chef of several NRG restaurants
• Greg Engert, beer director for NRG
• Brent Kroll, wine director of NRG

Single concepts:
• GBD (chicken and doughnuts)
• Birch & Barley/ChurchKey (a beer-centric restaurant on the ground floor with a beer-focused bar above)
• Tallula & EatBar (a wine-focused farm-to-table concept with a backroom gastropub)
• Columbia Firehouse (an American brasserie in an old firehouse)
• Vermilion (modern American cuisine)
• Evening Star Café (a joint serving classic southern food)
• Planet Wine Shop (adjacent to Evening Star Café)

Multiple locations:
• Rustico (a beer-focused restaurant with units in Alexandria & Arlington)
• Red Apron (a sustainable butcher shop and eatery with units in DC and Merrifield, VA)

Upcoming projects:
• Bluejacket (a brewery, restaurant and bar opening later this year)
• Iron Gate (was once DC’s oldest restaurant)
• Red Apron (a third unit)


Why it’s cool

Unlike many in our Top 25, there is no star chef at the top of Neighborhood Restaurant Group. There are many. Owner Michael Babin has a keen eye for talent and the wisdom to let that talent operate many of his concepts. He’s also smart enough to give them a piece of the action, which helps ensure their dedication to the group and the brand(s) they run. Consider for example, Kyle Bailey, the executive chef of Birch & Barley and the upstairs beer hall called ChurchKey. We were so impressed with him after eating at Birch & Barley, we named him a Rising Star nearly two years ago. Since then he’s also become the culinary force behind GBD and the soon to open Bluejacket. His wife, Tiffany Maclsaac, is the group’s executive chef and oversees pastry and desserts for the entire group. We named her one of 12 to Watch in 2012 for her skills. Two years earlier, we named Greg Engert, the group’s beer director, one of 10 to Watch in 2010. There are few people (geeks!) on the planet with a greater knowledge of beer than Engert. He’ll be a guiding force behind NRG’s soon-to-open brewery and restaurant. There’s a lot more great talent behind the group’s other restaurants. Babin isn’t messing around; his restaurants are top notch.

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