• Sydney Sirkin

The Great Beer Boom of Tarboro (interview/profile)

On September 10, 2001, Inez Ribustello and her husband, Stephen Ribustello, went to work as usual at Windows on the World, a restaurant at the top of 1 World Trade Center in Manhattan. On September 11, 2001, their lives changed forever.


Inez says, “after 9/11, we needed to find new jobs, and while we were determined to stay in the city, things had changed and we were not happy working apart from one another.” A trip to Tarboro, North Carolina made the Ribustello’s rethink their life path, after a luncheonette owner called Inez to see if she was interested in purchasing the space. The couple ultimately purchased the restaurant venue, moving down to North Carolina and never looking back.


Thus, On The Square was born in October 2002. After great success, they opened their second restaurant, Tarboro Brewing Company in 2016, and opened a satellite restaurant at the Rocky Mount Mills Campus, TBC West: Tacos and Taproom. Each location has its own charm, with unique wine selection and beer on tap, as well as sustainable and seasonal food menu options.


The Ribustello’s have made a life in the restaurant industry, and Inez advises “the key to any great management is to surround yourself with people who are better than you. Making sure I communicate with them regularly and support them in their successes is what drives me to be a better leader.” Her favorite part of the job is bonding with her teammates and making deep connections, while her least favorite aspect is losing teammates to other career paths and jobs.


Business was booming, until COVID hit. Inez says, “COVID has really hurt the brewery moreso than the restaurants because of not being able to serve draft beer for an extended period of time. Not only could we not sell pints in the taprooms, but wholesale dried up on draft as well.” However, On The Square and Tarboro Brewing Company are open for sit down dining and take out, and TBC West is take out only.


Despite the struggles of being a business owner during COVID, Inez “adores Eastern North Carolina and the people who choose to work, live and visit. It is a dream come true to be a part of its business community and to be able to give back in ways I never imagined because of it.”


For more information on On The Square, visit https://www.onthesquarenc.com/, for Tarboro Brewing Company visit http://www.tarborobrewingcompany.com/, for TBC West visit https://www.tbcwesttacosandtaproom.com/.

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