About a week ago, the governor renewed restrictions on indoor dining for all restaurants and breweries, and quite a few brewery and restaurant operators were quick to weigh in with their opinions.
Across various social media platforms, a great deal of those in and around the brewing industry vented their frustrations, some in comments and some via official statements. A few of these heated statements sparked such flame wars in the comment threads too hot for even us ‘neutral entities’ not to get burned when close.
At the end of the day, we felt that it was still important to keep reaching back through the embers to sift out the stories of our community affected by the pandemic.
This week, after things had cooled off a bit, I reached out to the heads of seven Santa Fe breweries to see how they felt about a continued shutdown scenario. Not surprisingly, only two of the seven breweries were willing to go on record.
I asked what their reaction was to being shut down again, and how they felt about the current state of things as we know them.
“You have to roll with the punches,” said co-owner and brewmaster John Rowley of Rowley Farmhouse Ales. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time, it’s for the greater good, so what can you do? In these times, we have to remain flexible, as this problem is not going away on its own. It’s going to take a cognizant effort on behalf of all New Mexicans to fight this.”
Rod Tweet of Second Street Brewery said, “It’s what I was hoping to avoid from the beginning — multiple waves of restrictions, but was not exactly surprised. This is rough, really rough on our employees. A lot of unfairness in the whole situation. There are layers, upon layers of impacts. I/we are on the side of trying to make this just a ‘2020 thing’ and get through this virus. My great fear is that it could be another 6-to-12 months of dealing with this. On the wholesale side of our business, things have been going pretty well, so that has been a bright spot.”
I also asked them what the new plan was going forward.
Rowley said, “The only plan is to try to maintain a positive outlook, and to be willing to bend to the restrictions that are placed on us. What else can you do? Wear a mask, and wash your hands often, and be aware of your surroundings.”
“Basically, at this point summer is over,” Tweet said. “And for us restaurant operators, we all missed the ‘cash’ season, and now we are about to go into ‘winter’ again. Pretty serious situation for restaurants in general. Everything, and our planning is about that at this point. We are being very careful and strategic about how we are going to manage that. We have also focused on putting together a fully online state-of-the-art ordering system for pick-up and to-go orders. I think the upcoming fourth and first quarter is what’s going to really tell the story of how damaging this COVID situation is to the restaurant/taproom industry as a whole. Probably not going to be pretty.”
All we know at this point is the future of the industry is as uncertain as the pandemic itself, but correlated. I’ll avoid making any official statements for the Dark Side, as I’m but a small part of what we represent, but I will say that I truly feel for all the restaurants and breweries. My heart broke when I saw the restrictions renewed. I know what they’re going through from my many conversations over the last four months. My heart goes out to these guys, but so do my dollars, whether it’s for take-out food, beer to-go, or merchandise. To the brewery and restaurant industry, I promise my support whether monetarily or lending a voice, even if I’m not physically in your establishment.
To your health and wellness, cheers!