By Jennifer Corr
Opening a downtown brewery in Glen Cove has been no easy feat for Frank Bilello, who started brewing in his backyard shed in 2014.
“After more than five years of planning and with tremendous difficulty raising capital, we began a lengthy renovation of a vacant storefront in Downtown Glen Cove,” Bilello, the owner and head brewer of Noble Savage Brewing Company, wrote in his GoFundMe fundraiser “Save the Savage.” “The original 1928 structure was fraught with unexpected issues and the project experienced numerous delays and set backs that put us way over budget.”
Despite being undercapitalized, he wrote, Noble Savage was able to open its doors in June 2019. But it wasn’t until February in 2020 that the brewery would break even, with events planned for March.
Then the coronavirus happened.
“We were closed for a little bit and then we reopened for deliveries and take out,” Bilello, who is from Sea Cliff, said. “By May, I pretty much ran out of money.”
Programs like the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan helped Bilello keep his business afloat, but it simply does not cover the tab while some potential customers are not venturing out as they would in the past because of risks associated with the pandemic.
“Despite continuous support from our loyal customers and the City of Glen Cove, we are struggling to make ends meet and in danger of closing our doors for good,” Bilello wrote in his GoFundMe fundraiser, which has so far raised $8,585. “Without your help we will not last another month and will lose everything we’ve sacrificed and worked so hard for.”
Bilello created the fundraiser on Aug.24. He intended to start raising money in May but said he didn’t feel right asking for money while receiving emergency funding.
A donation of $50 or more comes with a t-shirt that says, “Save the Savage,” as Bilello said that he doesn’t believe in asking for something for nothing.
“It’s been overwhelming, the support,” Bilello said on Friday. “Last night was the best Thursday I’ve had probably ever. A lot of new people are moving in so that’s good for me and down here because we’re all struggling.”
Many customers have been enjoying their drinks and food truck fare in front of the brewery on Glen Street, which is closed between Thursday and Saturday nights for outdoor dining.
For those unable to donate, Bilello said that checking out Noble Savage’s brews, purchasing crowlers, a gift card or some merchandise, following the brewery on Instagram and Facebook at “noblesavagebrewco,” sharing his fundraiser online, talking about the brewery with friends and family and writing a Google review about the brewery are ways people can help keep Noble Savage around.
“We believe we brew excellent beer, offer great service and have an amazing space for the community to enjoy,” Bilello wrote in his fundraiser. “So please help us stay afloat. If not for us, then for Glen Cove. The city cannot afford to lose another business. We’ve become an important player in the revitalization and have been working tirelessly to create culture and bring Glen Cove back to its former glory.”
To support and learn more about the fundraiser, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/hg6dk-save-the-savage.