After the coronavirus pandemic forced owners Gary Marler and Tiffany Richie to shut down their taproom for about two months this spring, the duo said they have since reopened and are working to forge a path forward.
That path, Richie said, includes following new state guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus—such as enforcing social distancing and limits on occupancy—while also finding new ways to serve customers and keep the business alive.
"It's the community that is helping us get through this," Richie said. "They are the ones coming in and making sure we are stable. They could choose to buy their beer at the grocery story, but they’re choosing not to. They’re choosing to come in and support us, and that’s just as important as anything we’re doing."
Brew:30's taproom has been reopened since May 22, Marler said. Since then, the duo said they have heightened already stringent cleaning and sanitizing protocol while also exploring new ways to use their outdoor covered patio to compensate for the limits on indoor seating. Ideas have included hosting live music outdoors and hosting movie nights, Marler said, but he said the timing and execution of such events is still being considered.
A key change moving forward in general will involve getting people used to sitting outside instead of at the bar, Marler said.
"[The bar] is a big part of our business," he said. "People come to a place like this because they want to make a connection with their neighbors and friends. The lack of not being able to do a bar is quite difficult. We still have to go through an education and evolution process with our customers to think about the back patio."
The pain of the shutdown was offset somewhat because Brew:30 is able to offer beer to-go in crowlers and growlers, something that requires a specific license that other bars might not have, Marler said. The business typically filled around 70-80 crowlers per month, a number that shot up to 200 per week over the first two weeks of the shutdown before dropping off to around 120 per week, Marler said.
Marler said he has been looking to build that side of his business more, but is not sure it will ever truly make up for the challenges posed by coronavirus restrictions. On the first Friday of being reopened, Marler said the bar was at its occupancy limit. However, over the past 10 days, he estimated his business has been about 60% of what is needed to break even, even with the increase in to-go sales.
"Until we get the six foot rule lifted, we are going to scrape by," he said. "But the other two strategies of beer to-go and [using] the back patio could get us back to a break even point. You never know."
Marler and Richie both said they are staying hopeful and expressed gratitude for the support they have gotten from the local community so far.
"Without them wanting us to be here when all this is over, we wouldn’t be here," Richie said.