The news sent some waves of relief from breweries who have been gut-punched by the State of Florida’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a tweet from September 10th, sent at 7pm, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Halsey Beshears announced that starting Monday, September 14th, the state’s bars and brewery tasting rooms will be allowed to open at 50% occupancy. The tweet was then echoed by the Department itself on its own Twitter account minutes later.
This is fantastic, albeit far overdue, news. As quickly as the announcement came, so came the questions and the reactions. Some were relieved. Some were concerned, and some were downright fearful.
This change to the Governor’s executive orders allows bars and breweries to open during one of the slowest times of their fiscal year. This leaves many of the breweries who have opened or will open with restaurant licenses out hundreds, even thousands of dollars after following the seemingly arbitrary advice that Secretary Beshears and Governor DeSantis have given them to open with an amended business license. Many who rely on sporting events and local gatherings to attract customers are striving to find other means to attract customers. There has been no additional relief given to these business owners except wishes of “good luck.”
Tampa’s Angry Chair Brewing announced their re-opening for Friday, September 11th. If the brewery went through all of the trouble to open under a restaurant license, and now the state is allowing bars and breweries to open under their existing license, will there be any relief or refunds for following the advice of the department that closed them? (Note: this is the same department that regulates them.)
While Florida’s craft brewers have proven themselves a stalwart lot – a group that can weather many storms, the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on these businesses, and now they are relying on the support of their communities to help restore their vitality. Just as it has been throughout the pandemic, these breweries are relying on the communities they serve to support them. Some, like 7venth Sun Brewery of Tampa, have taken on an additional business venture to help diversify. (Alert Coffee Company at 7venth Sun Brewery launched this week.) Some breweries have taken Governor DeSantis’s and Secretary Beshears’s advice and permanently added a food option to the brewery like DEEP Brewing of Tallahassee adding Slide Hustle to the brewery. Whatever the option, these breweries need their community’s support more than ever.
Whichever brewery is your favorite, your local, your go-to, now more than ever is when they would love to see you. If you’re not comfortable going in, remember that to-go is always an option. Remember that growlers, merchandise, and package beer sales count as support, too. If you don’t feel comfortable going in, remember there are other ways to support your favorite brewery during these COVID times even though you may not want to go in.
From Pensacola to Key West, Florida’s breweries are counting on our support, and they missed us as much as we missed them.