There’s No Single Answer to Re-opening a Brewery/Brewpub/Beer Bar, So Don’t Suggest There Is

There’s No Single Answer to Re-opening a Brewery/Brewpub/Beer Bar, So Don’t Suggest There Is

The federal stay-at-home guideline expired on May 1st, and Governor Holcomb likewise has stated that certain businesses can start to move toward opening and working on ways to conduct on-premises activity with appropriate precautions on May 8-15th, depending on the county. This has implications for Indiana craft breweries, brewpubs, and craft beer bars. Look for people to start expanding hours and services, but don’t expect normality until perhaps mid-June (if there are no slide backs). The forms and manners of re-opening will be myriad; some will bring increased costs without guarantee of added revenue. In some ways, this period may be more difficult than what we have just experienced.

Indiana On Tap believes it is important to realize that there is no single course of action that can work for all businesses. Everyone is an amateur at this, so no one can determine what is right or wrong. We encourage all breweries, restaurants and bars to make the decisions that are best for them. Considered reflection on the short term needs of their employees and customers, and the long term needs of their employees by finding a way to remain viable can lead to different courses of action for different owners.

Everyone wants to get back to the bars, but just when that is needs to be a personal decision. image credit: thrillist

Capital on hand and funds obtainable through liquidation of assets, committed contracts, PPP, forgivable SBA loans, ability to contract without closing completely….these all are factors that a brewery/brewpub/bar MUST take into consideration when making their decision. If a business has money from PPP or SBA that will pay their employees, then they can afford to remain on a curb-side only program for longer. For others, this has not been an option, so the long term good of their employees’ economic and medical health are dependent on them getting back to doing more business.

Risk is a part of life; it should be both courted or avoided when appropriate, but it can’t be eliminated. In this case, there are risks inherent in re-opening as well as not re-opening on site business. How one weighs and resolves those sets of risks is what leads to an opinion about re-opening. Yet, that opinion isn’t the only one that is important. Patrons are adults and employees are adults – and adults should be able to decide, at least partially, on how they manage their risks.

Patrons should decide if they want to patronize a business, but to do that the business must be open. Employees should be able to weigh the risk of coming back to work or staying away, but to have the choice, the business must again be open. Therefore, empowering employees and patrons would tend toward re-opening when possible. However, it is the owners that bear much of the liability, which adds a risk to their plate. In the end, all aspects must be weighed and balanced. It’s not going to be easy for anyone, and no one has the experience to guide them (or advise anyone else) in this novel situation.

Indiana On Tap’s experience and history with Indiana craft beer indicate that businesses in and around craft beer have their employees’ and customers’ best interests at heart. A decision to open now or to wait should not be judged or second guessed by anyone else. We trust that breweries have considered their actions and we should support them the best that we can. If you’re a brewery/brewpub/beer bar owner, don’t let a vocal group make your decision for you. If you’re on the outside looking in and publicly call out a business or refuse them patronage, realize that you are doing it using an interpretation of their situation that is under-informed and an opinion that is colored by your personal circumstances. You simply don’t have enough knowledge to criticize anyone else’s decision, whatever it may be.

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