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The Fusion of Hops and Heads

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Greg Jasgur - Executive Bar Manager - Pizzeria Paradiso/Birreria Paradiso

Greg Jasgur - Executive Bar Manager - Pizzeria Paradiso/Birreria Paradiso

Why in the world would you have ever agreed to be profiled by such a questionable website?   What were you thinking?

I'm sorry, did I agree? I just felt guilty with all your constant nagging; I mean how many times can you say "No, stop calling me before I call the cops."  Just joking Tom... I agreed because I'm excited for your new undertaking and wanted to support your project. You've always been very supportive of Pizzeria Paradiso and I wanted to return the favor.

Everyone thought you were going to be a doctor when you grew up.   How'd you end up here?

I was waiting tables and bartending at Pizzeria Paradiso's Georgetown location part-time during college. During that time I developed a very nice relationship with my boss Ruth Gresser, owner and chef of Pizzeria Paradiso. After college, I moved to the West Coast. Around the same time, Ruth converted the downstairs space of the Georgetown location of Pizzeria Paradiso to a beer-focused bar. The man hired to manage the bar left after a short period of time and Ruth offered the job to me. I jumped at the opportunity. It was also helpful that was still basically unemployed in San Francisco and had an interest in the emerging craft beer scene. That was five years ago. The popularity of the Pizzeria Paradiso's beer program has in part allowed Ruth to move and expand her original Dupont location and to open a new Old Town Alexandria location. All the while, the emerging craft beer scene has been very supportive of us, allowing for creativity in my position. Thus, keeping me happy, focused and interested in my position. So I guess to answer your question, I would say that I am a very lucky victim of circumstance.

The East Coast's Craft Beer Scene has truly come into its own of late..... You guys were among the first to champion the American Craft Beer & Cuisine scene in Washington, DC. With success comes competition and a lot of new Craft Beer Restaurants have opened in the DC area recently.... is this a good thing or a bad thing and how is Pizzeria Paradiso positioning itself to keep up with DC's ever expanding scene?

I don't know if I would say we were amongst the first since there were other great beer focused bars in DC before we came along. There was a plethora of knowledgeable and loyal craft beer enthusiasts in this area for a number of years. I would say that we were amongst the first of the newest bubble of craft beer interest. At the time Pizzeria Paradiso started to seriously focus on craft beer, it was already a 15-year-old restaurant with a large loyal customer base. Therefore, my job was easy; all I obstensively had to do was to marry our customer base with the established craft beer fans.

Since our inception, there have been a number of new craft beer oriented restaurants to open in our area. With the opening of all these restaurants, the number of people trying new craft beers has also greatly expanded, making our job at Pizzeria Paradiso that much easier. I would say that it's a definitely a good thing. Competition has always been a way to insure that the consumer is getting the best product at the best cost. Not to mention, all of these new craft beer focused bars have together made the DC area a very important market to the Craft beer industry. This has allowed a greater variety of craft beers and breweries to become available.

In terms of "positioning ourselves to keep up with the expanding scene," I would say that we just need to be loyal to the principles that got us here. If we continue to bring in great craft beers, keep churning out great food, and continue to give great service... we should be ok. And it also helps that the last time I checked none of these new places are serving Pizzeria Paradiso's delicious pizza.

What do you for fun when you're not drinking serious beer?

I like to read, hike, bike... but I guess you asked what I like to do while not drinking beer. So I guess all those activities are out since I like to drink while doing them. When not drinking beer huh? I guess I like to sleep when I'm not drinking.

Now that we've put you through this ridiculous exercise, will you take our call next time we're in the hood?

I think this question presupposes the fact that I took your call the last time you were in the area. (See "joke" for first question)

August 7, 2011
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