Birmingham’s Food & Beverage Industry Struggles Amid Coronavirus

 ========= Old Image Removed =========Array
(
    [_wp_attached_file] => Array
        (
            [0] => 2020/03/Cahaba_to_go.jpg
        )

    [_wp_attachment_metadata] => Array
        (
            [0] => a:5:{s:5:"width";i:4032;s:6:"height";i:3024;s:4:"file";s:24:"2020/03/Cahaba_to_go.jpg";s:5:"sizes";a:10:{s:9:"thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-140x140.jpg";s:5:"width";i:140;s:6:"height";i:140;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:6:"medium";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-336x252.jpg";s:5:"width";i:336;s:6:"height";i:252;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:12:"medium_large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-768x576.jpg";s:5:"width";i:768;s:6:"height";i:576;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:5:"large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-771x578.jpg";s:5:"width";i:771;s:6:"height";i:578;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"wbhm-icon";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"Cahaba_to_go-80x80.jpg";s:5:"width";i:80;s:6:"height";i:80;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:13:"wbhm-featured";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-600x338.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:338;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:20:"wbhm-featured-square";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-300x300.jpg";s:5:"width";i:300;s:6:"height";i:300;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:18:"wbhm-featured-home";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-415x311.jpg";s:5:"width";i:415;s:6:"height";i:311;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:22:"wbhm-featured-carousel";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-353x265.jpg";s:5:"width";i:353;s:6:"height";i:265;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:14:"post-thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:24:"Cahaba_to_go-125x125.jpg";s:5:"width";i:125;s:6:"height";i:125;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}}s:10:"image_meta";a:12:{s:8:"aperture";s:3:"1.8";s:6:"credit";s:0:"";s:6:"camera";s:9:"iPhone XR";s:7:"caption";s:0:"";s:17:"created_timestamp";s:10:"1585053336";s:9:"copyright";s:0:"";s:12:"focal_length";s:4:"4.25";s:3:"iso";s:2:"40";s:13:"shutter_speed";s:17:"0.058823529411765";s:5:"title";s:0:"";s:11:"orientation";s:1:"1";s:8:"keywords";a:0:{}}}
        )

    [_media_credit] => Array
        (
            [0] => Janae Pierre
        )

    [_navis_media_credit_org] => Array
        (
            [0] =>  WBHM
        )

    [_navis_media_can_distribute] => Array
        (
            [0] => 
        )

)
1626865057 
1585228832

The staff at Cahaba Brewing Company is pretty thin these days but the beer is still flowing. They’re canning a new seasonal beer: DD’s cherry hibiscus sour. But, like many bars and breweries in the state, Cahaba is temporarily closed. Eric Meyer is the founder and co-owner of Cahaba Brewing Company.

“We are able to do some to-go beer, curbside pickup styles of beer,” he says. “But outside of that, that is it. Nobody can come in and enjoy a pint. Nobody can come in and do a tour.”

Since state officials put new restrictions in place for restaurants and bars, the east Avondale brewery has lost a lot of money.

“A good portion of our wholesale distribution is through keg beer,” he says. “Keg beer goes to restaurants and bars here locally and throughout the state of Alabama and all those places are now closed, too. So right now we are kegging absolutely nothing.”

Meyer has had to lay off his entire part-time staff. Other businesses have taken even more dramatic steps to manage the economic strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mile End Deli across from Birmingham’s Railroad Park announced this week that it’s closing.

Brio, a restaurant at Homewood’s Brookwood Village, also closed its doors for good, and Babalu, in Birmingham’s Lakeview district, permanently closed last week. Isaac Milhime was the kitchen manager there. He says he heard rumblings that the restaurant might close, but never heard anything official.

“They just deleted our Facebook page, they deleted us off the website,” he says. “And that was prior to them letting people know we were closing.”

Milhime says he received a termination letter a day later that said the restaurant was closing due in part to the coronavirus.

Bret Thorn is senior food editor for the industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News and also writes about coronavirus for NRN’s sister publication Restaurant Hospitality. He says it’s tough for restaurants to survive if they were already on shaky financial ground before the outbreak.

“Anytime there’s an economic downturn, restaurants that are not doing great financially are going to close anyway,” he says. “This is just something that’s part of the normal business cycle.”

But it isn’t normal for most restaurants to have to rely on take-out options alone. Thorn says that requires a different skill set and it’s a different business model—one that won’t necessarily work for everyone, he says.

Meyer, the owner of Cahaba Brewing Company, hopes curb-side beer sales help.  But right now, he says he’s struggling. He considered taking advantage of Birmingham’s emergency loan program for small businesses, an initiative the city launched earlier this week. But he says it’s not ideal.

“As a business owner, if I had no money and I had to take on debt to hopefully be open for a little bit longer, they’d be great,” he says. “But we don’t know where the end is. If I knew it was two weeks from now, I could prepare for that. But I don’t know if it’s two weeks from now or if it’s six months from now.”

Meyer says if restrictions remain in place, his brewery could survive at least 12 more weeks. But for him and other small business owners, he worries the end may be near.

 

In Alabama’s bald eagle territory, residents say an unexpected mining operation emerged

Aside Lake Guntersville, bald eagles are royalty. But locals say a planned chert pit is already changing that status.

The UAW’s union dreams seemed unstoppable. Then came the realities of the South

After a historic victory in Tennessee, the United Auto Workers southern campaign is still recovering from a big rejection in Alabama. How will it recover?

Exhibit shows the ‘real people’ around the Civil Rights Movement

The Temple Beth El Civil Rights Experience is a guided tour that allows visitors to explore the lives of Jewish people during the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit highlighted Jews who were passionate activists and Jews who didn’t do much for the cause.

Alabama executes man convicted of killing delivery driver during a 1998 robbery attempt

Keith Edmund Gavin was pronounced dead at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in southwest Alabama, authorities said. He was convicted of capital murder in the shooting death of courier service driver William Clayton Jr. in Cherokee County.

Thousands of Dollar General stores now sell fresh produce. Could it improve rural food access?

The discount store chain has added fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 5,400 stores. Grocery store advocates say the move could hurt mom-and-pop grocers.

2 shootings in Birmingham kill 7 people, including young child, Alabama police say

Four people died in a shooting at a Birmingham nightclub late Saturday, while an earlier shooting outside a home in the city killed three people, including a young child, authorities in Alabama said.

More Coronavirus Coverage