Craft breweries preparing for Phase One of reopening

Posted at 9:55 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 22:26:48-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Businesses across Hampton Roads are gearing up for Phase One of Virginia’s reopening. That phase is expected to go into effect this Friday for most of the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, News 3 spoke with Elation Brewing in Norfolk about how they’re getting ready for what’s ahead.

For Elation Brewing co-owner Kenny Van Hook, one thing is on his mind when preparing for Phase One.

“Cleaning, cleaning and cleaning,” he said. “We'll make sure that everything is properly clean and sanitized between customers.”

The phase allows restaurants and beverage services to have outdoor seating at 50% capacity.

“We have a small patio. It's only 12 people, but that's 12 people bringing life back into our business,” Van Hook said.

News 3 first talked with Van Hook a few weeks ago. He said the pandemic has hit his brewery hard.

“Business being off over 90% is unsustainable,” he said.

But he and others hope a comeback is on tap.

Bart Watson, Chief Economist with the Brewers Association, said their group has put together a checklist for breweries reopening.

“They might need to change their flow,” Watson said. “They might need to arm their servers with different knowledge or protective equipment in order to provide great service, but also to keep customers safe.”

This week, the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA) called on Gov. Ralph Northam to create a COVID-19 relief grant fund.

“These businesses really need help today,” VRLTA President Eric Terry said. “They need help, whether it's paying rent, utilities, paying for food if they have to order food to reopen, all of those things are very critical needs.”

Wednesday, Virginia ABC officials told News 3 businesses can request to either create or expand their current outdoor dining areas, while following specific guidance. Those areas could include parking lots and sidewalks.

“I think it would be a fantastic way to expand the opportunity to get customers to the building, especially if they can't come in through the closed environment,” Van Hook said.

For Van Hook, he sees the glass half full.

“This pandemic has brought everyone down emotionally,” he said. “Having a little optimism is always a good thing.”

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