We fully understand why some of our many friends who operate taprooms, pubs or bars are keen to reopen as soon as they can. For many the livelihoods of their family and staff are in the balance, for others the urge to return to work, to reconnect with customers and colleagues, is an equally powerful motivator. Bills need to be paid; even deferred rent will become due.
We are fortunate in many ways – our overheads are very low, we have no landlord demanding rent payments, we have no staff to consider, only ourselves. Also our membership-based home delivery and collection service has taken off to the point where sales are now close to pre-Covid levels. We are brewing beer and managing to get it quickly and relatively conveniently to our all-important local customers.
Against that, we know that many of our regular and supportive customers miss spending their weekend afternoons in our beer garden or miss the convivial gathering of neighbours and locals. We miss all this too; it has been significant part of our lives since we established Moogbrew just over four years ago.
But … there is one major over-riding consideration: our health and yours! While it is a relief to see the number of deaths and new infections falling after what has been such a tragic year for far too many families, this virus remains present in our communities. The R-rate remains worryingly close to 1 and any relaxation of lockdown conditions risks tipping us back to exponential spread. New outbreaks are being reported and scenes of mass gatherings do little to offer confidence that a second spike is not around the corner.
Moreover, there is every likelihood that the reopening of pubs will see crowds gather outside those establishments that do reopen on July 4th and managing such gatherings is beyond the experience of all but a handful of licensees. Now is not the time to ‘suck it and see’.
Prior to Covid-19, we had begun to ponder how we would cope this summer if the numbers of visitors to our taproom & beer garden continue to grow in the way we have experienced year on year since 2016. The pandemic and inevitable lockdown has concentrated our minds on finding a way forward for our business, for the present and for the longer term.
While, we will remain closed for July – or maybe longer, should the infection rate not drop considerably from its current levels – we do hope and expect to return to welcoming visitors back to our garden to enjoy the freshest of beers. But when that day comes it will never again be an ‘open gate’ to all.
Our membership scheme provides a means for us to limit numbers and to ensure that access to our modest facility is enjoyed first and foremost by those most local to us, those who have supported Moogbrew in our formative stages and those who have kept us going through these unprecedented times. We owe them that, at least!
Things may never be the same again, but they might one day become even better for our local community, whom we are privileged and fortunate to serve.