The restaurant group you’ve come to know for its robust beer offerings is now turning its attention to wine. Neighborhood Restaurant Group, whose establishments include Birch & Barley/ChurchKey, Vermillion, Tallula, and others, is bringing Brent Kroll on as its new wine director.
Kroll, 27, was most recently the wine director at Adour at The St. Regis Hotel. Before that, he oversaw the wine program at Ardeo + Bardeo, as well as the wine and cocktail program at The Oval Room.
NRG spokesperson Megan Bailey says that Kroll will lead the wine programs at the group’s nine restaurants, butcher shop, bakery, and its retail wine shop in Alexandria, Planet Wine. Additionally, he’ll help create the beverage programs at their concepts opening in 2013—-GBD, Red Apron Butchery, and Iron Gate—-and “create unique beverage programming and events.”
The restaurant group’s last wine director was Juliana Santos, who started in 2009; the position’s been empty for approximately a year. So why bring on one now? “The appointment of Brent is really less about the right time for a wine director and more that we felt we had found the right person whose passion and creativity was the perfect match,” says Bailey. “Fittingly though, Brent is coming on at a very critical time with the opening of several new projects, and he’ll be an integral part of developing the wine program for those concepts.”
Diners will see Kroll’s influence immediately at NRG’s new restaurants, he says, as he’s been talking with the group about bar designs and exclusive wine offerings. “The company is really behind building relationships with wineries,” he says. As for the existing restaurants, Kroll isn’t looking to “blow anything up,” he says, but to “have an impact over time.” And though he’ll be focusing chiefly on wine, Kroll says there’s potential for him to assist with NRG’s cocktail programs in the future.
Kroll adds that NRG presented an opportunity he hasn’t had before: free reign over the wine program. “There are always restrictions in a beverage program. It’s like a black and white picture that you’re trying to add color to,” Kroll said. “But hopefully people will read the beverage program and see the passion there.”
Kroll officially starts next Monday.
Photo courtesy Brent Kroll