Brewing Up Business

Part One: Bell City Brewery

Brantford – Breweries in the province have been allowed to remain open since the State of Emergency was announced and non-essential businesses and services were forced to close on March 17th, however, they have still faced many challenges and changes to their operations.

Bell City Brewery, located on Roy Boulevard in Brantford, remains open for take-out and delivery of their local brews. Owner, Dennis Mirijan, says it has been far from business as usual.

The tap room space at Bell City Brewery is now empty of patrons and live music.

“Luckily with a brewery, we’re able to sell packaged beer on the way home so we have stayed open for our retail (take-home beer), similar to the Beer Store and LCBO,” Mirijan says. “But we also did pivot in the way that we never used to sell online. We were ready to sell online. We had thought about it and we had the software and everything set-up, so as soon as this happened, we were able to start with that.”

The brewery also began to offer free home delivery within a 15 to 20 kilometre radius.

Mirijan adds, it was important to keep some staff employed and some of them volunteered to do home delivery in their vehicles. “We gave them some guidelines in how to distance,” Mirijan says. ” We make sure they are checking ID, making sure an adult is home, not leaving beer unattended…so there’s some rules we needed to follow, but we switched very quickly and within a week we were up and running.”

There were also a few unexpected packaging details to figure out for when they launched the new service. “There were a lot of things we had to find,” Mirijan notes.

Mirijan adds, while retail sales are up, overall he’s taken a hit. “Our business did decline for sure,” Mirijan says.

“We sell draft kegs that we fill here and sell to a lot of restaurants and bars. The majority of those are shut down. That’s a huge portion of our business. Then our pub here is also a large portion of our business. At least two-thirds of the business is not operating anymore.”

Dennis Mirijan, Bell City Brewery

Mirijan says, he’s grateful for the assistance the province has provided for small business and considers themselves ‘lucky enough to at least pay some bills’.

Like many business owners, Mirijan is also hopeful he can re-open within the next few weeks and says they will be ready and willing to implement any new health and safety measures that may be mandated in order to do so.