Owner: Matthew Fermin
Founded in: June 2018
Based in: East Harlem, Harlem
Link to website: https://santiagosbeergarden.com/
After working his way up from a busboy and learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business, 29-year-old Matthew Fermin was able to bring Santiago’s Beer Garden to life just two years ago.
Located in East Harlem, Santiago’s offers an escape from the summer sun to enjoy Dominican comfort food and a shaded, outdoor garden vibe.
“Our walls are designed like a house in the Dominican Republic so our customers know to expect nothing but homemade food,” he said.
Typically, summertime is Santiago’s peak business season. But for now, its doors are closed.
“I didn’t want to close because my dine-in business is my main business and I have bills to pay. But after thinking about it, I ended up closing for my staff, so that they could be safe, too,” he said.
Still, Fermin is confident that Santiago’s will be able to bounce back once things normalize again.
“I have no doubt that once I open back up, it’s going to be busy again. It may not be as busy as it was because of the social distancing procedures, but I know the neighborhood loves us,” he said.
While staying hopeful for the good times to come, Fermin is eager to find a way to help support his staff by any means that he can.
Now, he’s even selling gift cards to Santiago’s as a way to generate revenue and help his employees stay afloat during these trying times.
After receiving love and support from his New York neighbors, Matthew leaves this message of hope for his East Harlem community: “We’re going to come back stronger and better. Focus on the good news and you’ll always see the positive in the things around you.”