Like many small businesses, we are struggling right now. Revenues are down over 50% and we have had to furlough or lay off about half of our staff — just to make sure we can weather this health crisis. Anyone remaining has taken a pay cut and/or reduced ours, and ownership hasn’t taken a paycheck in months. I would also guess that we are in a better position than most small breweries to ride out COVID-19, which is a sobering thought.
However, one thing that has become clear is that you, our craft beer community, are incredible. Once we shut down our taprooms, we quickly started a to-go program and have been iterating on it over the past few weeks. We had no idea what to expect from a newly minted revenue stream, but we’re not in a position to turn down any revenue at the moment. From its inception, we pledged to give 25% of all to-go sales and in lieu of tips, accept donations, 100% of which would go to our furloughed staff. We are now offering a ‘touchless’ drive-thru experience, and on busy days we have two drive-thru lanes open.
Which leads me to some really encouraging news… the outpouring of support we have seen from you has truly made a difference. Because of your willingness to purchase directly from our small brewery and generous contributions, we will actually be able to bring some of our furloughed staff back onto payroll. You read that correctly. You, our craft beer community, have mobilized in the span of a few weeks to provide jobs and financial stability to our employees.
To start, we will be able to bring back at least four of our furloughed folks – in addition to increasing the hours of some whose hours were cut. We hope to be able to bring back even more if our to-go program continues to find success. Going forward, we will be taking a portion of the 25% of to-go sales to help with payroll costs for employees that would otherwise be furloughed. And even if our to-go program stays relatively flat, we will still be able to provide some much needed financial relief to those on our team that are still furloughed.
We continue to pledge that 25% of all of our to-go sales will still be given directly to staff whose jobs have been impacted the most by COVID-19. But because of your generosity and/or drinking problems, a portion of that pledge will now take a slightly different form — as actual paychecks to currently furloughed staff. We will continue to accept donations in lieu of tips, and 100% of these gifts will go to those still furloughed, unless our to-go revenue numbers continue to rise, in which case we will ‘rehire’ as many additional folks as possible with those funds.
Your willingness to step up to the plate for the survival of our brewery and our team has been an incredibly life-giving and humbling experience for us. We cannot thank you enough, and hope that we can continue to serve you through this pandemic so that we can all share a beer and a hug on the other side.
Again, thank you. We’re all in this together, and you’ve made that very real for us today.
See you at the drive-thru, from a safe distance!
Jeff, Joel, and Jonathan