Local brewery changes the game

Posted at 9:15 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 23:32:38-04

The owners of a Downtown brewery applied for a permit to allow them to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current state orders, bars and breweries have been closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Nueces Brewing Company co-owner Brandon Harper said he and his partner decided to apply for a food-and-beverage license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. With the permit, they plan to reopen for dining service Friday.

“We never had any desire to have a full-out restaurant, but if that’s what it takes to keep the doors open, then that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got the tables spaced out appropriately, we’ll be wiping everything down and everyone will have their masks on.”

Harper said selling food and operating more like a restaurant wasn’t in the initial business plan. However, he and partner Cale Moore began getting creative to be able to stay open during the novel coronavirus pandemic. They began selling barbecue and beer to go, which was the best option at the time.

Because it’s still unknown when bars and breweries will be allowed to reopen, Harper and Moore had to change their business plan for the third time. That’s when they decided to apply for a food-and-beverage permit.

“We’d love for it to be a place where people can come and hangout, sit down to feel comfortable, eat a meal, and have a few beers,” Harper said.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission can issue a food-and-beverage permit to a business if most of its sales are from food, merchandise, etc., and if alcohol sales do not exceed 50 percent.

In order to maintain those qualifications, Nueces Brewing Company will also sell artwork and merchandise. Customers won’t be able to order a drink at the bar, either, and staff will go to the customer's table instead.

Had you asked Harper a year ago, when the brewery first opened, if they’d be selling more food than brews today, he would’ve said “no.” But tough times call for lateral measures.

“A lot of people are closing their doors, and -- who knows -- it may be in our future, but we’re not going to go down without fighting,” he said.

Nueces Brewing Company will reopen for dine-in service 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The brewery will be closed Mondays.

KRIS 6 News reached out to several other breweries in town: Lorelei Brewery said it will not be making any changes to its business.

Meanwhile, the owner of Lazy Beach Brewing said its considering applying for a food-and-beverage permit. Until then, it will remain open for curbside service.