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Bar owners discuss ways to maintain business during pandemic

Posted at 4:08 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 13:25:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As many non-essential businesses have shut down due to the coronavirus local bar owners are explaining more about the new challenges they are facing to maintain revenue.

23ABC News spoke to some owners and gained details on how they are managing during the pandemic.

Many of the bar owners we spoke to said the hardest part of the pandemic is paying their employees, but that the secret to staying open is getting creative and taking advantage of the new measure passed by the department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

The Alley Cat Bar has been open for more than 40 years in Downtown Bakersfield and the owner Kenny Reed shared his concerns with 23ABC News, “I just hope the Alley Cat can survive it."

Reed said the future for his bar and his veteran employees is uncertain in light of the coronavirus pandemic, “I wish i didn’t have to close.” Following the executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom, that demanded all non-essentail business close voluntarily, Reed closed his bar because he said he knows it was the right thing to do. “I certainly understand if bar owners are terrified at the economics of the situation,” Reed said.

According to Reed, he already owns his building in Downtown Bakersfield, so he no longer has the burden of paying rent, but with no new money coming in, times are tight for everyone in his shoes, “The real challenge, you know I can only afford to pay my employees for so long.” In the meantime he’s encouraging his employees to seek additional assistance through unemployment.

However, other pub and grill owners like Rebecca and Eric Giddens of the Kern River Brewing Company in Kernville said they are taking advantage of a new temporary measure passed by the ABC to stay afloat, “We just launched an online beer delivery store,” Eric Giddens said.

Their new online delivery store can be found at http://kernriverbrewingcompany.com/

According to the ABC, California pubs and restaurants like the Kern River Brewing Company can now sell beer, wine, mixed drinks or cocktails as long as they have a secured lid or cap without a hole for sipping or a straw abd as long as they are sold with food. The state has also lifted its ban on alcohol sold at drive-through windows. “Package beer in cans but beer in other containers like growlers and things like that,” Giddens said.

Despite their new website, social media push and their statewide distribution of their local Kern County brew, the Giddens said their sales are still down 75% and they have had to lay off several of their employees, “Because there’s not a lot of money coming in so we have to do with what we have and a lot of it is relying on our community.” Rebecca Giddens said.

The Giddens said that during this survival mode period they are adapting new changes daily based off what their beer and restaurant customers want and they hope that by sharing what they are doing, it will help other non-essential businesses maintain revenue during the pandemic.