CHICAGO (CBS) — A West Town brewery invested thousands of dollars into a Chicago food license – mainly so they could still serve their beer indoors.
They had it for all of a week, before the state said food or not, outside service will be the only option with COVID-19 cases spiking in the city.
So as CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, the brewery is changing up the game plan again.
On Tour Brewing Company has one beer called Head’s All Empty. Don’t let that name fool you though, because founder and brewer Mark Legenza’s head is full of ideas.
He has socially-distanced tables, scannable menus, and a garage door that stays open to keep the air flowing.
“It really feels like we’re doing the right thing,” Legenza said.
He even picked up a sidewalk patio license, and soon, that will be the only spot at the brewery where people may drink.
“There’s not enough emphasis on compliance,” Legenza said. “We’re very quick to be reactive to the situation and very short to reward people for doing the right thing.”
Legenza’s other idea was to serve beer indoors for the winter. So On Tour, 1725 W. Hubbard St., spent months and thousands of dollars getting up to code for a food license.
They don’t have a kitchen, but they realized if they just served simple snacks, they would get more leeway on indoor service.
“It’s not the way that I imagined it to happen,” Legenza said.
They finally got the license last week, which allowed them to serve indoors this week. But now, that tap is already dry.
“Helpless is probably the best way to describe,” Legenza said. “We’re doing everything we can to try to pivot and create a safe environment for our community and that news was really, blew a lot of wind out of sails for sure.”
On Tour is hoping people will still want to enjoy their beer outside for at least the next couple weeks. They’re even setting up fire pits to help people stay warm.
“Who doesn’t want to come hang out by a fire?” Legenza said. “And I think it really adds a lot to the social environment.”
Legenza expects the brewery to rely heavily on their contactless beer delivery service.
But is he worried On Tour might not make it through this, especially given that they’re a newer business?
“Yeah, every day, multiple times a day,” Legenza said.
Still, for now – even with no indoor service and all the tables shoved in a corner to get them out of the way, the beer and ideas will keep flowing.
As frustrations brew, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker say businesses should apply for round two of the state’s Business Interruption Grants.
On Tour already tried round one, and they’re hoping for better luck this time. Legenza said they will need to help survive.
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