This is our 10th and final brewery update in our current series. Hopefully the next time we do a series like this, we are discussing how each brewery is going to handle reopening to having onsite customers.
For Turtle Mountain Brewing and owner Nico Ortiz, the to-go-only model seemed like a daunting challenge at the beginning of the shutdown in March. The TMBC fans in Rio Rancho, however, have done their best to keep the brewpub humming along, as he told us in response to our email questionnaire.
NMDSBC: What pandemic era innovations have worked out for your brewery?
Ortiz: Nothing new or clever. Just sanitizing the shit out of everything all the time and providing our normal delicious food and beers.
NMDSBC: Has online ordering (should you have it) been a bonus or a headache?
Ortiz: Still haven’t gone down this path.
NMDSBC: Have sales remained constant or are they fluctuating week-by-week, day-by-day?
Ortiz: Our sales have actually increased instead of decreased like I figured they would. I compared the two-week period of March 29 through April 11 against our sales for last year at the same time and we were only down 42 percent and 45 percent, respectively. We were initially down 55 to 60 percent when we started take-out and delivery only. We did $8,000 (recently), which is 75 percent of a normal Friday with full dine-in capability. I’m sure that was due all the stimulus checks which hit people’s bank accounts.
NMDSBC: Have customers responded positively to any beer/food discounts? Or have you found most people are still unaware?
Ortiz: We are not doing any discounting because the increased cost of all the to-go boxes and growlers is already eating into our profit margin. Dine-in beers and N/A beverages are our highest margin products, and we aren’t selling any of that.
NMDSBC: What are some ideas you have coming up? Please include any special beer releases you would already like to start letting people know about.
Ortiz: We have a British Golden Ale coming up, but with beer sales being down 50 percent, we are having an issue with tank space, so the brewery has curtailed productions dramatically.
NMDSBC: If the stay-at-home order is extended to mid or late May (which it was through May 15), or even beyond, is there a point where the current to-go-only model is not going to be feasible for your brewery?
Ortiz: As long as we are hovering around 50 percent of revenues and can function with a skeleton staff like we are, I’m confident we can ride this out until Memorial Day. After that we will need to start getting back to full revenue generation. Being your own landlord is definitely a huge plus. The longer this goes on the more difficult re-staffing will be, which is definitely a concern to me.
We thank Nico and all the other brewery owners who responded to us for this series. We would always rather be going directly to the breweries to talk to each of them in person (you have no idea how much we miss chatting over a pint or two), but for the sake of our safety and theirs, doing this virtually is still the best path going forward.
There is still beer news out there, and we will keep reporting on it as we all cross our fingers that we can find a safe path forward.
Keep supporting local!