Goodyear goes to Nicaragua

Earlier this year in April, a team of 12 volunteers left CLT for Managua, Nicaragua. GYH partnered with buildOn, to accomplish a mission of building a school. This school was to be built in the remote village of Cerro Verde, in the Rancho Grande region of the Nicaragua mountains.

How It All Came Together

By collecting reservation donations via our igloos, we held an epic Pigs & Pearls Party, we started a GoFundMe, and our community came through! Through our non-profit, Goodyear Giving, we raised the needed funds to build the school, and wanted to share news from the trip with you, a member of our extended GYH Fam. We are so thankful for our community coming together to support this trek.

In the remote village of Cerro Verde, 48 students walk as far as 4km every day to attend school. Their school is in a ramshackle structure of wood, aluminum siding, and tin. The school has no windows for ventilation and a dirt floor. One teacher is tasked with educating grades 1-5.

But thanks to our supporters generous donations and support, a new school is being built. Our group was able to travel to help break ground and lay the foundation for the structure.

We started every day with a group circle, alternating between trek members and volunteers from the village. We led each other in stretches to get our bodies limber, a group chant to unify our minds, and then received instructions and daily tasks from our foreman. Because the village is so remote (a 45 min drive up a windy mountain dirt road), no machinery could assist in the build. This meant everything is done by hand! Our team dug holes for the rebar, assembled rebar columns, and sifted sand to mix with concrete for mortar.

The accommodations for the team were not luxurious, but we were so thankful to the village leaders for their hospitality! The ladies were housed in the village church; While the gents were able to sleep in a barn. This barn was used to store coffee beans grown and harvested in the village. Each room came standard with an alarm clock that started crowing around 4am. The village leader allowed us to use his family’s personal shower, supplied with fresh water from a mountain stream (It was COLDDDD.. but it def felt great after a day’s work!). The buildOn chefs set up a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the spread was amazing.

Let’s Talk about Food

Ya’ll….. the FOOD. Yes, the purpose of the trip was to build a school, and we worked hard for it, but you know we love food, right? Our amazing buildOn Chefs literally created magic for every meal with local ingredients and nothing but a live fire. Our village hosts graciously gifted us treats from their farm as well! Chayote cooked with sugarcane and water until it was jammy and caramelized, fresh cacao and bananas from their trees, coffee that was grown, harvested, dried, roasted, ground and brewed from only several yards away.

Coffee is integral to the culture of Rancho Grande, Nicaragua. This village grows and harvests coffee as a means of survival. They sell their crop to the large coffee roasters of Matagalpa. We were also welcomed to the village with a ceremony that featured traditional dance and prayers. We were able to meet with some local women and men of the village to learn about their daily lives. We even rode on a Chicken Bus- a popular method of transportation throughout the country.

Sadly, our trip was too short. But we’ve been able to keep in touch with the village through buildOn since we’ve left, and they’re making huge progress on the school. It’s very inspiring to see what a community can do when they come together for a singular purpose.

On our last day in Rancho Grande, we rode to Cacao, a village about 10km from Cerro Verde that has a finished buildOn school. We were able to see what our school would look like when finished. To be able to walk on real floors, with a cool breeze coming through the windows, while talking with the local teachers really made us all hopeful for the 48 kids in Cerro Verde.

Thank You!

We can not THANK THIS COMMUNITY enough for their support as we came together for this trek. It was truly a life-changing trip for many of us. We can’t wait to see what we can do together again through Goodyear Giving. We loved being able to serve the people of Nicaragua. If this story inspired you, please feel free to head on over to our active GoFundMe campaign, as we try to raise the last bit of funds to cover this trek.

Thanks again!

Chris, Sean, AJ, and the rest of the Nicaragua trek team

Sitting down with Team Member Justin Watts

Welcome to “GYH FAM,” a monthly conversation with one of our team members about their work, their interests outside of work, and tons of deep thoughts…..or sometimes not so deep thoughts.

This month we sat down with Expeditor, Justin Watts. He has been working with the company for almost 2 years and has demonstrated leadership skills and moved his way up in the ranks from food runner to lead food runner to expo. Justin is an integral team member of the GYH family, both in the front and back of house. 

What made you want to become a team member of GYH?

I needed a job, Chris is a friend of mine so he was able to help me out. I’ve never worked in this type of restaurant, it was something new and I wanted to give it a try.

What do you think of GYH? How does GYH set itself apart from other restaurants?

You’ve got to surround yourself with people you can be inspired by and look up to as mentors. That used to not be important to me but as I’ve grown this is something that’s become important to me. There are lots of members of the team here that motivate and embolden me. I don’t think I’ve had that anywhere else I’ve worked.

Restaurants and service industry jobs usually have a high turnover rate. What has caused you to stay on as a team member for so long? 

Mainly the environment and the people, I really love NoDa. This restaurant is doing a lot of good in the community and I want to see what happens and how the company grows. I’ve known Chris a long time and I see where his vision is going and I want to be a part of that. I want to grow with the company and help more with their non-profit, Goodyear Giving. 

What is your favorite thing about being a team member at GYH?

They are very flexible with scheduling. They really listen to their employees and are accommodating. I like the atmosphere; we are family. 

Everyone is so different. The money is good, as you know the job market is insane right now, anyone can work anywhere these days. The team members in the BOH give a different atmosphere, it’s more inviting than other restaurant’s BOH’s that I know of. 

It’s cool, the staff are more laid back, we treat each other like family. Everyone is kind to one another but we joke around and push each other’s buttons like a family member would. We can voice our options honestly, without people getting upset and we handle our business. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Girl, that’s personal, LOL! But really, I have two dogs that I hang out with. Only having two days off you only have so much time. I like to hang out at home, work out, and spend time with a few select friends. 

Tell me about family values and how that applies to life at GYH?

We are very polite to our guests. You can tell GYH has a different kind of vibe. I think our guests see our vibe, the way we are with one another, joking around with one another but also still being professional and getting the job done. I think that’s why we have so many regulars and return guests. Customers pick up on that. They also joke around with us, they want to be a part of the family too. The GYH family.

How have you grown professionally and personally during your time here? How has GYH changed you? 

It’s definitely changed me. I’ve learned the value of a dollar and become so much more responsible. Professionally, I think it has helped me realize how much it takes to work in a restaurant. It’s really hard work and I don’t think people realize how hard it is, how demanding. You have to adapt to be in this environment. There are so many different aspects of a restaurant that I didn’t know. You have to grow with the restaurant. If you aren’t building, making money or have goals for yourself, I don’t think you should be working here. You should be ambitious. 

What are your goals for GYH and your goals for outside of the restaurant?

I want to know how the restaurant industry works. Eventually I want something of mine. Not sure what that looks like right now but I know I want to be here. I really like the environment that the service industry has. I love the vibe, and meeting all the people who work in service. You see the realness and the rawness of different things. I want to learn and soak up everything, once I’m there I’ll execute what I want next. 



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Igloos an Alternative Winter Dining Option

After 2 years of pandemic living our lifestyle changes have grown and adapted. Along with these changes, our choices of where to eat have transformed as well, with new questions to be addressed before planning our next meal, such as:

  • Does the restaurant have patio seating?
  • Do they offer take out?
  • Are they conscious about social distancing?

Our number one priority at GYH has always been the guest’s experience. The idea struck in the winter of 2020 to provide an extra layer to our outside dining offerings. Not only did we expand our extended patio with the construction of our greenhouse, but we were the first to offer a unique, truly seasonal experience to our guests. 

Enter Igloo Dining: your own private space to celebrate, reconnect or simply enjoy a wonderful meal. As the first restaurant in the area to adapt this kind of dining experience, a lot of thought went into the planning of how the igloos would logistically work. From sanitizing the domes, to the reservations system, to the logistics of service itself, we planned and planned, but ultimately faked it until we made it, learning on the fly. As the popularity of the igloos themselves grew, requests for them went through the roof. As should be expected, we started seeing no shows and last minute cancellations. Hence, the need to start charging a reservation fee to ensure that folks would show up for their reserved table. 

One of the core values of Goodyear is to BUILD THE LEGACY, which to us means supporting the community, both inside and outside of the house. As a restaurant group we love the community of Charlotte and NoDa to our core. The introduction of the igloo reservation fee instantly presented an opportunity for our business to give back. 100 percent of the reservation fee goes to Goodyear Giving, our registered 501(c)(3) non profit. This idea seeks to funnel our charitable giving to organizations both domestic and international that we think are doing good work. The popularity of the igloos coupled with this fee has allowed us to raise enough funds to partner with the international group, buildOn. A team from GYH and our sister restaurant, Old Town Kitchen & Cocktails (Rock Hill, SC), will be accompanying buildOn this spring to build a school in a remote village of Nicaragua!

The igloos have proven to be a popular dining option when the weather gets chillier. They provide a unique, private experience and that is exactly what the public has been looking for during the ongoing pandemic. Lately, we’ve received SO much press about them which leads us to think that the public is equally, if not more, invested in our igloos.

We hope they continue to be a winter tradition here at the GYH. Igloo reservations will be available until mid-March. If you would like to book an igloo please visit our igloo-dedicated Open Table page, Igloos at Goodyear House. Using this platform will help you to see what availability we have and what time frames are available for booking. Thanks as always for being a member of the GYH Fam. Your continued support means the world to us.



Team Member Profile: Jacque Brinson

Welcome to “GYH FAM,” a monthly conversation with one of our team members about their work, their interests outside of work, and tons of deep thoughts…..or sometimes not so deep thoughts.

We sat down with one of our servers that has been with us from the beginning, Jacque Brinson. We talked about all things GYH and what has motivated her to continue to be a member of our team at the GYH for 2 years. 

What brought you to GYH?

My last restaurant told me I would have to wait a few years to serve, so I was in search of a new job. That’s when I found GYH, before we even had a fully developed website. I didn’t know anything about it but I knew it was a new restaurant in NODA, which is where I grew up. I thought it would be cool to re-enter this area, which I love. Once I met Chris and Sean and got the interview, I’ve been here ever since and I’ve loved it.

Restaurants and service industry jobs usually have a high turnover rate. What has caused you to stay on as a team member for so long? 

There are several reasons I’ve stayed at GYH since we opened. We have hired a lot of really good people. Not only management but also people within support positions. We are always changing, I think that’s another reason I’ve stayed around. It feels like a new restaurant every couple of months with the changes to the food and beverage menu. I get to keep on learning about new stuff and meet new people. It’s always been good. 

What is your favorite thing about being a team member at GYH?

I really like the atmosphere that we create with our outdoor patio in the summer. Everyone wants to be here and it transfers to the staff. We all enjoy being with the customers, we have good people here in noda. They want to go somewhere fun with good energy, they like to be here and it makes me want to be here.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to cook and play video games with my boyfriend. When the weather is good I like to garden with my cat, Pickles. I also love spending time with my family, especially being an aunt to my nieces and nephew.

Tell me about family values and how that applies to life at GYH?

I have a pretty cool personal connection to family values at GYH because I have had a lot of people from my personal life start working here with me. My sister, Sophie, my cousin, Lauren and all of my roommates have worked here. All the people close to my life have either been to this restaurant and gotten to experience it or have worked here. Not only that but because of the amazing people we have working here it does actually feel like a family a lot of the time. I love them.

How does that translate to our guests?

A lot of our guests pick up on (the family atmosphere at GYH) and play into it as well. They catch our energy and enjoy it themselves. You can tell when they stay for a while and I’ve even had guests come back to apply for jobs. They can see how much fun we have and how we are still capable of creating a functional work environment while being like a big family. We have a lot of fun together both at work and off the clock.

How have you grown in your time here?

In my two years here, I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with. Not only in my restaurant knowledge but personally as well. Everyone here has something to offer and something to teach each of us. I think that’s why I like working here so much is because we hire good people.