It's impossible to explain what a rollercoaster ride it has been since March 16th when the world decided it was time to shut down...but I'm gonna try, so settle in, this is a long story.
I was listening to the radio while waiting on the paint I was picking up to renovate my daughter's bedroom with, when I heard our premier announce, "restaurants and bars are to shut down immediately." In that moment I thought to myself, "are we a restaurant or a bar?? How do we count in this?" A quick phone call to our AGLC rep confirmed that we were indeed included in this "shut down" category. Hub Town wasn't classified as a bar/lounge or nightclub so much as a "licensed establishment that permits children." So even though we have never made and served you guys food, we were categorized as a restaurant...and so began our first LONG rollercoaster hill climb.
As soon as Mark and I fully understood what was happening, we packed up the taproom chairs and switched to a takeout and delivery model...it was fast! With all the news stories before that day though, you can imagine that we had anticipated the impending taproom closure was coming, and had already ordered and received a pallet of crates so that we could adapt quickly to our 180 degree business model shift - home delivery!
For those of you that have been in, you know that we had always offered crowlers and growlers of beer for take away, but this delivery thing was an entirely new beast. Nonetheless, within days we were taking orders online and collaborating with other local businesses to bring our beer and their food to our customer's doorsteps so they could safely isolate based on the new health recommendations. What we hadn't anticipated in this new journey however, was how fast we would blow through our supplies...rookie mistake and rollercoaster hill climb number two!
Within no time our growler supply had dwindled to just a few dozen and our supplier was unable to get more shipped out to us quickly (because he was now working with nothing more than a skeleton crew...thanks covid), so it was pivot time again and the Weekly Growler Exchange program was born!
With the few dozen growlers we had in stock, we began offering a chance to have beer delivered to your home on a weekly schedule and each time we would bring you your beer, we would take away your growlers for sterilizing/sanitizing and reuse in the program. In fact, we were sanitizing these so well, that our AHS rep noted in his recent visit, that we were going way above and beyond...I knew our team were over achievers but it's always nice to have it confirmed by the regulator!
It turned out that a lot of you LOVED the growler exchange program and got right on board with us (you guys were awesome local supporters and you know it)! But as you can imagine, those who weren't on the new program, needed beer too. This meant filling and selling thousands of crowlers...which as you know (if you've been following our story at all), ran out as well. But this time, it wasn't just our supplier...this was a global manufacturer shortage!
Because of the covid crisis, many breweries in North America had moved to a delivery/takeout model like us, which meant we ALL needed the aluminum cans. As we watched our towering 2400 can pallet of crowlers shrink to nothing in days, we hit the pivot button again and went in search of something new. And just as we ran out of both our glass growlers and our pallet of crowlers, the miracle shipment of new BRUmate growlers hit our doorstep so you didn't have to stop enjoying your beer! Timing is incredible but as you can imagine we were sweating it out all the way to that moment!
In the meantime, as we did our best to deal with each wave of change, you watched our taproom continue to transform so that everyone could maintain the required safe distance between them. But, let me tell you that it was hard not to lean on the counter toward you and chat when you came in to see us...let's face it, we don't like the distance, even though we needed to do it.
This was around the time we decided to offer something new and fun...the Global Isolation Mug Club! This club was created to bring smiles to our beer community and of course encourage them to stay home and enjoy their beer where they would be safe. As a bonus, we decided we would donate 50% of the proceeds from the custom designed mugs to our local Food Bank, since the crisis was hitting everyone hard and this was a small way for us to give back.
What we again, didn't anticipate was how many of you were going to want join the Isolation Mug Club! With 96 mugs ordered (and only expecting to sell maybe 50 of them), you blew us out of the water and ordered 800! That's right, I said 800!!! And with 50% of the proceeds going to the Food Bank, you helped us raise $10,000! We were gobsmacked to say the least and many of you didn't see hide nor hair of me for a very long time after that because I was in my garage custom designing/engraving and managing delivery/shipment of every single mug...yup, we did it all...every step...which is why it took so long...sorry about that!
Shortly after we released the mugs, we decided you guys needed yet a little something more...something FUN and different to take your mind off of the "end of the world" feeling...so we introduced the BEER MAN.
What was supposed to be a super fun, beer truck, driving through your neighbourhood with the sounds you remember from your childhood (think ice cream truck songs), didn't get as far as we had hoped. It turns out, our liquor regulator thinks it is inappropriate to sell beer from the truck to you outside of your home...don't get me started now, but let's just say, we are working with two levels of government to cut that prohibition-laden, red tape so we can bring you your beer the way you want it...stay tuned, this could be an interesting battle (this is when it felt like the roller coaster stopped at the top of the hill)...will we win? Who the heck knows!
Just as we closed in on the BEER MAN rejection, you may remember that we released "Berry Manly," a Raspberry Belgian Blonde Ale that was causing serious mania (seems fruited belgian beers are your thing) And even though we had restricted purchase to a single growler fill per day, you smarter than smart beer drinkers knew to keep coming back daily to get your fill because it was going WAY too fast. And as you can imagine, we ran out in only 7 days! Which then became our next story...running out of beer...the first FAST and FURIOUS downhill part of our roller coaster ride.
Yes you've seen us run out of beer before (when we first opened and under estimated your love of craft beer), but what you may not realize was that during the pandemic, selling via delivery and take out meant we were selling between two and four times the beer we normally sell! We had so many new customers stop in to support us and of course our devoted regulars, that we were flying through our stock and supplies faster than we could keep up. So you've seen a few beers go but with 4 tanks of beer maturing and 2 more on the way, we are at nealry full brewing capacity with our own skeleton crew and are stocking up nicely as I write this.
So, to say this covid crisis thing was hectic (and still is), is an absolute understatement. We can't even begin to tell you how it feels to have such an incredible beer community rally around us like you did (and still are). You didn't let us down...you made sure we survived...even if it was ONE visit, you helped keep us going...and now it's time to re-open so we can thank you properly!
So, after closing our taproom for 10 weeks, we will finally be opening on FRIDAY MAY 29th!!!
Not sure if you remember, but May 29th is Mark's birthday, and we couldn't imagine spending it with anyone else than you! So, at noon sharp, our doors will open, our chairs will be back at the tables and we will finally get to pour you a fresh, local brew onsite.
Want to hear about the few things that have changed since you were here last? Ok, here's the list:
1) Our seating capacity in the taproom will be only half of what it was so you can stretch out and truly OWN your space! It's kind of like being in "First Class"... lucky you!
And if that isn't exciting enough, we have been working with the Town of Okotoks, local Fire and AHS to get our main level patio space extended into our parking lot so we can enjoy seeing even more of you with even more room to move! Just wait until you see the incredible planters from our friends at Red Barn Mercantile just up the road, cozying up the place too! Did I tell you how lucky you are?!
Here's a sneak peak at the plan...it's not final, but it's a start!
2) Any of our servers who cannot give you the royal, 6 ft space you deserve while serving you your beer, will of course be wearing masks...but don't worry, they aren't those Hannibal Lecter-like ones so you won't have to worry about pending nightmares!
3) We will be gallantly ushering each of you to your tables as you show up...but not before we offer you a refreshing spritz of alcohol based, hand sanitizer!
4) For the time being, you can rest your weary feet and enjoy being waited on hand and foot. We will come to you to take your order and bring you your beer EVERY SINGLE TIME! Talk about fancy shmancy!
5) We will continue to fill your growlers and offer you crowlers to go if you like and will even have perfectly charming little spaces, all along our glorious brewery half-wall, reserved just for you while you wait.
So, here's how it will work if you're taking your beer to go:
walk up to find an open set of YELLOW FEET on the floor;
put your feet directly on those feet until one of us calls you up. Don't worry, as always, you will have LOTS of space to stretch out in and, to get to and from our counter space without bumping into anyone eles' 6 ft royal space;
place your order and pay using our beautifully sanitized POS, and then head back to your "reserved" yellow feet until your order is ready and we will bring it to you.
If however you show up and there happens to be no yellow feet to stand on (aka: there's a line up), we will direct you to a "reserved" sidewalk-chalk marking spot outside until some feet become available for you. Again, we will be helping to "direct traffic" so we won't leave you stranded.
5) Before you sit down to one of our 6 person tables, we will thoroughly sanitize the table/chairs so you feel as comfortable as can be...again, top notch service! Don't you feel like royalty?
6) As you can imagine, we won't have our games out for use right now. So....BRING YOUR GAMES IN WITH YOU! We want you to have as much fun as always! We may even have a few BRAND NEW games onsite that you can purchase. Leave them in your vehicle and have them ready for the next time you come in!
7) BRING YOUR FOOD! We will work hard to find fun food vendors to keep you satiated but as always, we are happy to see you bring in your own delectible picnic!
8) Our growler exchange program and daily deliveries will remain unchanged EXCEPT FOR ONE THING...you'll need to get your orders in by 1:00pm daily if you're to receive it in the same day. Why? Because you guys love your home deliveryso much that our crew needs the extra time to get it all ready and out to you! The bonus is it will get to your door much earlier!
Well, I think that's about it folks...it was a long story...but if you have met me, you know I like to talk with you! And if I can only do it via this blog until Friday, I'm going to get my fill here!
See you soon!!!!