Nick Wilson, Managing Director/Proprietor
How can you call something work when it excites you every morning? Nick Wilson does work at 1618 — he’s the proprietor after all — but spending time at his Greensboro locations is more fun than anything else. OK, fun would be checking in via FaceTime from a cottage on the Neuse River, but you get the point. His favorite part of the job? Walking the line of trendy and traditional, creating a high-end beverage program with the latest and greatest beers, wines, bubbles and high-quality cocktails.
Nick landed in Greensboro for college and loved it so much he never left, finding a permanent home here with his tenured, erudite husband Holt, who deserves endless praise — and probably presents — for allowing Nick to ply his trade during the odd hours of a restauranteur. His hobbies include renovating houses and helping usher positive community change through philanthropy. He believes leading is more about doing than it is saying, prides himself on reciprocal loyalty with his patrons, and is genuinely thrilled when you leave his restaurants wanting to come back again.
George Neal, Corporate Chef/Proprietor
A native of Greensboro, George Neal literally grew up in city’s restaurant community, getting his start washing dishes while finishing at Page High School. He worked his way up the chain (dishes begot pantry which begot grille which begot executive chef) before starting off on his own with the original 1618 location in 2004.
George experienced two schools of culinary education: he’s self-taught but also classically trained through his work at one of Greensboro’s premiere French restaurants, Madison Park. George was the winner of the inaugural Fire in the Triad competition and is opening his third restaurant. In his free time, he can be found playing tennis, snowboarding and trying to avoid bogeys at Starmount.
Jake Skinner, Libation Manager
Jake Skinner understands the nuances of the modern restaurant industry, having worked with locally raised produce since he was a teenager (literally: Jake was farming blueberries on the high plains of Michigan before anyone bothered to call beef grass-fed).
Far more important for his work as Libations Manager at 1618 Downtown: he can chug a Guinness in 50 seconds. Jake is a devout disciple of hot sauce higher learning, but isn’t afraid to quench the thirst of customers in a variety of ways. Sweet, sour, spicy, savory, whatever you crave. Jake lives on the cutting edge of custom cocktail creation with a side of guaranteed satisfaction.
Harrision Simpson, Executive Chef
Harrison Simpson’s skill set is as diverse as his household hot sauce collection. A near-architect turned engineer turned executive chef of multiple 1618 establishments, Simpson was also a carpenter at one point in his life.
Constructing palette-pleasing menus is his true passion, however. Simpson trained under chef/proprietor George Neal and developed a deep love of flavor-driven cooking and a passion for growing his knowledge base, spending his free time watching cooking shows and researching recipes. He likes his menus to reflect his favorite food – Vietnamese pho – with an overt simplicity set against underlying complexity.
There’s no denying the fervent culinary passion that surrounds Aaron Sheehan, whose career started in a pizza joint and evolved into a lifelong obsession with food and wine. After more than a decade in the restaurant business, the Cleveland native was thrilled to land at 1618 Downtown and “nerd out,” as he puts it, on awesome food and drinks with imaginative colleagues.
Aaron enjoys reading about food and drinks, and coming up with new ideas, but he’s equally enamored with his patrons. “I love people and you never know who’s going to walk in the door at any given time.”
When he’s not behind the bar, you can find Aaron fine tuning his sporting skills at beer ball and disc golf.