Milton's Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub offers grocery market for furloughed employees; switches to takeout, curbside for food, alcohol

The restaurant's new blackened fish sandwich features blackened cod, tomato, lettuce and pickle on a brioche bun and served with a choice of side. This dish is available for curbside pickup and delivery. (Courtesy Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub)
The restaurant's new blackened fish sandwich features blackened cod, tomato, lettuce and pickle on a brioche bun and served with a choice of side. This dish is available for curbside pickup and delivery. (Courtesy Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub)

The restaurant's new blackened fish sandwich features blackened cod, tomato, lettuce and pickle on a brioche bun and served with a choice of side. This dish is available for curbside pickup and delivery. (Courtesy Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub)

Almost 90% of Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub's revenue disappeared overnight after both locations—one in Milton and one in Brookhaven—ended dine-in services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Geoff Kokoszka, the director of operations for Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub. Even though the city of Milton did not pass any ordinances to end dine-in service at city restaurants, Kokoszka said he and other executives decided to switch to takeout and delivery only on their own volition beginning March 17; however, these changes meant about 80% of the employees at both locations—about 75 people—had to be furloughed.

"Our intention is to hire them back as soon as we can, but that's all dependent upon a lot of things," he said.

Olde Blind Dog first opened on Crabapple Road in downtown Milton in 2009, just three years after the city first became incorporated, Kokoszka said. He said co-owner Ron Wallace was "instrumental" in helping get the city incorporated, so they have always had deep roots in the city of Milton.

He said they often give away gift cards, donate money to neighborhood associations and local schools, and offer discounts to first responders to help give back to the Milton community.

"We've always just tried to be part of the community and be the place where [they] can congregate and hang out," Kokoszka said.


In the spirit of community, Olde Blind Dog—named after a nickname for Wallace's American bulldog, Peaches, who is also featured in the restaurant's logo—has hosted a St. Patrick's Day event every year since it first opened, Kokoszka said, growing to be the restaurant's biggest revenue source each year. The 12th annual St. Patrick's Day celebration—what Kokoszka dubbed as "our Super Bowl"—was canceled following the virus outbreak, which meant the surge in revenue the restaurant has come to expect each year would no longer come.

"That's our biggest day," Kokoszka said. "It was a real strain on our revenue, but nobody can control it ... we just wanted to be the best community stewards we could."

Despite the challenges, he said they are trying to rise above and find solutions. Olde Blind Dog now offers family size meals that serve up to four people and cost less than four individual entrees, Kokoszka said, as well as packaged beer and wine per an ordinance from the city of Milton. They also host a fish fry every Friday from 4-7 p.m. during Lent, which they are continuing to do via to-go and curbside pickup orders, he said.

"People are doing their part and making an effort to dine out as often as they can through delivery or curbside," Kokoszka said. "I think that the community is embracing it and doing whatever they can to support it."

Until the state of the world starts going back to normal, Kokoszka said he and the staff he was able to keep—which were the salaried management positions—started a twice-per-week grocery market for all the furloughed employees to come to the restaurant and pick up basic groceries for free. All tips from takeout, delivery and curbside pickup orders go straight into a fund for this grocery market, Kokoszka said.

"It's been really neat to follow all the local restaurants and what they're doing to either push their business or protect their employees and help their employees because it all works together," he said. "Everybody's doing something."

For those interested in donating money to help purchase products for the grocery market, Kokoszka said to contact the restaurant via social media or on the contact form on the website. To order curbside pickup or takeout, visit the restaurant's website or download the new Olde Blind Dog app on the Apple and Google Play stores.
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.