21A Calls for 60-Day Moratorium on Bank Principal/Interest Payments
Today, San Francisco-based 21st Amendment co-founder, Nico Freccia, called on commercial lenders to delay principal and interest payments for two months in the wake of COVID-19, so companies like his could make payroll.
The brewer operates a brewery and restaurant in San Francisco and a taproom/production brewery in nearby San Leandro. They employ 110 workers in total, but after the Bay Area’s mid-March shelter-in-place directive, they either let go or furloughed about 60 employees, all in hospitality.
Despite their manufacturing facility in San Leandro still operating, as per federal “essential” business guidelines, “21st Amendment drastically scaled back their production payroll.” But “with a 60-day moratorium on principal and interest payments, 21st Amendment and many other local small businesses would be allowed to provide income to workers within their communities.”
In fact, Nico says, “One month of bank principal and interest payments would cover 100% of our ENTIRE company’s current monthly payroll. And right now, with reduced and limited revenue, we need that money going into the pockets of our workers and our communities.
“Instead, we are faced with that revenue going into the pockets of the banks, in our case an international company owned by a foreign entity. All of us need to publicly call on commercial lenders now to voluntarily offer a moratorium for a minimum of 60 days on principal and interest payments during this crisis.”
We asked 21A’s minority partner, Brooklyn Brewery, if they were standing with Nico in this ask.
Brooklyn CEO Eric Ottaway responded that “it makes sense as part of an overall rescue package for the country.
“There are doubtless hundreds of thousands of small businesses that this would help immensely.”
AMID COVID CRISIS, JESTER KING WANTS TEMPORARY RIGHT TO SHIP AND DELIVER BEER
Jester King Brewery co-founder Jeffrey Stuffings offered his perspective as a Texas small business owner in a blog post late last week, including pleas to consumers and lawmakers.
While losses have not been as bad for Jester King as he had originally anticipated, they are still quite devastating, with about ⅔ of revenue lost in the past few weeks due to onsite shutdowns. (Close to 80% of their regular revs are on-site, he’d shared in a prior post.)
The saving grace thus far has been curbside pickup and the sale of beer in cans and crowlers. “If the level of support we’re currently seeing holds steady in the weeks ahead, it will go a long way to ensuring our survival,” Jeffrey wrote.
“. . . Now is the time to support small, local, and independent businesses like no other. I shop at multi-state and multi-national chains too, but now is not the time,” he added. “Please buy small, local, and independent!”
With shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders becoming the norm in many places, Jeffrey, like many other business owners in his position, is concerned that to-go sales will suffer.
Although Texas has passed provisions for mixed beverage permit-holders to temporarily deliver, he believes the state is lagging behind others when it comes to brewery delivery.
“A major source of envy for me has been my brewery friends in other states who can legally ship and deliver beer. I’m glad they have that right. But we want it too!” Jeffrey wrote. “The Texas Craft Brewers Guild has submitted signatures to Governor Abbott requesting a temporary right to ship and deliver beer, but I am not optimistic.”
Another important part of survival for brewers at the moment, according to Jeffrey, is monetary support from the state and federal government like tax deferment and disaster assistance loans.
“As of this writing, the only help we have received is that tax-day has been pushed back to July 15th,” he wrote. “Sales, excise, and franchise taxes are still due to the state government on time. We’ve asked for deferment from our bank and the SBA on our loans. While we’re hopeful, no relief has been given at this time.”
He closes his blog with the acknowledgement that “there are people out there right now that have it worse than small business owners. . . There are a lot of stories that need to be listened to right now. I offer this up as one of them.”
“I won’t take credit for this final point, because I’ve seen multiple people make it. Restaurants, bars, and breweries . . . have been asked to close our doors to the public to save lives and keep our healthcare system from collapsing. In return for this sacrifice, we must have help!” Jeffrey pleaded. “We cannot make this sacrifice without it.”
ROGUE NOW DISTILLING HAND SANITIZER
As the craft community weathers this storm, many brewers have put their employees and shuttered businesses to work to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Rogue Ales & Spirits of Newport, OR, has joined this fight, announcing today that they have started producing and packaging “Helping Hand Hand Sanitizer” at their distillery.
So far, the hand sanitizer has been donated to “local emergency response and public safety officials” like fire departments, police, county offices, ambulance services, and emergency helicopter services, but Rogue plans to expand nationwide.
“There’s a massive shortage of so many life-saving supplies right now and we wanted to do something to help,” Brian Pribyl, head distiller of Rogue Ales & Spirits, said. “We can’t make gowns, gloves or medical equipment but we can keep a steady supply of alcohol flowing.”
Rogue was able to start producing sanitizer after the FDA loosened its guidelines on March 18 to allow distilleries to make hand sanitizer in the midst of nationwide shortages. The primary condition for production is that distilleries follow the formula laid out by the WHO, requiring that it contain at least 80% (v/v) ethanol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water. Rogue is currently using this formula for Helping Hand and is packaging it in 375 ml, 4 oz, and 16 oz bottles.
“Since day one we have been dedicated to giving back to our community and are so honored to be able to step up and help in this time of need,” Jack Waibel, vice president of production, said.
Jenn, Jordan, and Harry
“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” – Sir Winston Churchill
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