USA, CA: Oacklands Independent Brewing Company announces permanent closure
Before Independent Brewing Company was founded on July 4, 2013, there were no breweries in Jack London Square. Today, the Oakland waterfront neighborhood is home to a growing number of small craft breweries including Federation Brewing and Original Pattern Brewing but now, the oldest among them has announced it will not be able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, SFGate reported on July 7.
"Today, on the seventh anniversary of our founding, with much mixed emotion, we are announcing the permanent closure of Independent Brewing Company at 444 Harrison Street," the brewery announced on its Facebook page on July 4. "The challenges of Covid-19 and an inability to find common ground on continuing our lease into the future have made it impractical to continue operations."
Owner Steve McDaniel cited a number of reasons for the brewery's closure, mostly relating to the lack of revenue over the past three months: Independent Brewing does not sell food, so it has not been able to reopen for outdoor dining, and they also do not have packaging capabilities, so they haven't been able to sell bottles or cans during the shutdown, either. They have also been unable to obtain any PPP loans or support from the government.
"We'd been closed for three months already, and the county didn't have any plan available for when we could reopen more fully," said McDaniel. "So, we were faced with at least another three months of zero revenue. That wasn't working well for us or our landlord."
Alameda County reopened outdoor dining (which includes bars, breweries and wineries that serve meals) on June 19, but currently has no specific date set for its next stages of reopening, which include indoor dining and hair salons first, and then finally bars, offices, schools, nail salons and gyms.
Even if they were permitted to reopen soon, McDaniel explained that reducing capacity to 50 or even 25 percent, in addition to hiring more staff for carrying out new safety protocols and paying back the rent they were behind on was not feasible. Their lease was also set to end in December, at which point McDaniel guessed there would probably be a rent increase.
"In the end, it just didn't seem to make sense, particularly given the lack of guidance and clarity about what the future would hold," said McDaniel.
Over the years, McDaniel says Independent Brewing provided an important community gathering space in the neighborhood, and even used to host art shows and punk, metal, hip hop, funk and jazz concerts.
"It was very low-key and very laidback not nearly as done up as lot of other breweries around town. It was very simple and industrial and very Oakland," he said. "The music shows brought a really interesting, very diverse mix of people together. It will be very unfortunate to lose that in the neighborhood."
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