Local Bars and Restaurants Adjust to Closure

Mar 18, 2020


Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

The alcohol industry is taking a hit with all bars and restaurants in Indiana and Michigan ordered closed to dine-in patrons amid coronavirus spread. 

Governors across the US have ordered dine-in restaurants and bars closed in a social-distancing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan has closed down almost entirely. Owner Bill Welter said they’re still distilling, but all their restaurant, bar, and event space business is shut down.

“We’ve felt that, just frankly, that carry out or some kind of food delivery would not be something that we could successfully execute.” 

Welter said with the business down to the bare bones, they’ve had to cut staff.

“It’s impacted our employees in a significant way. We laid off over 110 employees on Monday,” Welter said. 

Federal officials have said there will be financial support for laid off food service employees and closed small businesses. No specific plans have been released.

South Bend Brew Werks is staying open for carry out orders and brewing but owner Steve Lowe said they don’t know how long they can carry on.

“Honestly we’re taking it day by day. I’m going over numbers right now, actually. Just trying to see where we’re at, how long we can kind of limp along like this and be ready to open the doors back up when we eventually get an all clear.” 

Lowe said right now since it’s the off-season they had fewer employees anyway. He said he’s trying to get as many people as many hours as possible.

Part of Brew Werk’s business model is daily customer-driven donations to local nonprofits. Lowe said they’re seeing some of that support come back.

“And we did see a few of those community partners swing by yesterday, which is nice to see obviously, because, again, we’re all in this together. We want to be able to support each other in any way that we can.”

Dine-in operations will be closed in both Indiana and Michigan through at least the end of the month.