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Cheers! North County: The beverage community is rallying — again

 “…When restaurants close, the comments on the post are always full of people saying things like, ‘If I had known my favorite spot was in trouble, I would have ordered more.’ This is me telling you: your favorite spots are in trouble…”

 “This will be the final nail in the coffin…”

 “We ARE open. Please consider dining with us while you can.”

 “Well, it’s official. We’re re-entering lockdown…”

If you are a reader of this column, it is likely your social media feeds are full of posts like these from the breweries, restaurants, coffee shops and bars many of us considered our home away from home before the pandemic upended our lives.

Before you stop reading another article about the coronavirus, I want to clarify it is NOT your responsibility to ensure the survival of any business. This column isn’t asking everyone to band together to save XYZ business. You are going through this pandemic too.

Nor is this a column railing at officials for pandemic policy impacting an industry that can be tough to thrive in even in the best of times. Could things be different with more effective policies put forth and enforced more effectively? Could aid packages have been better distributed to those in need? Yes. On all counts at all levels. Is staying home, wearing a mask and trying to slow the spread of this virus necessary? Yes. Absolutely, but if the past eight months have taught me anything, it is that we need to cut each other a little slack.

Early in this pandemic, I talked to brewery owners about how they felt about being open, even partially. They were happy, grateful even, to be working, but most commented that they would rather be home, limiting the risk to their employees, customers and families. They didn’t — they couldn’t — shut down entirely because extended closures would be more than their businesses could survive. Things have only gotten more complicated since the spring.

The truth is, no matter what happens now, more hospitality businesses will close. It will hurt. It will devastate employees, managers and owners who have put their heart and soul into businesses smashed head-on by a freakin’ COVID-19 semi-truck. It will hurt the customers who loved eating and drinking and being merry there. We’ve long entered the unknown, and it is terrifying, and yet…

And yet, my social media feed is also filled with friends building holiday trees out of locally made six-packs of beer and wrapping them in twinkling lights; messages about starting coffee swaps or pay-it-forward programs to buy pints for frontline health care workers, and strangers responding to those in need of help. The community around the beverage industry is rallying again.

When picking up to-go beer at Five Suits Brewing, you can buy a pint, or six, to be delivered to local frontline hospital workers in North County!

I also see photos from the businesses themselves thanking the communities they inhabit. I see city councils digging deep to add grant monies to the local small business stimulus packages to support as many small businesses as possible. There are those standing by to be leaned on. San Diego always feels like a “shop local” community, but this year it has gone into overdrive.

If you’re giving gifts, I encourage you to find a brewery, bar, cafe, or restaurant that makes your community feel like home and share what they do with those you love. Swap out the candy canes in the stocking for a bomber of beer. Individually wrap every can from a local mixed case and play “mystery” beer with your spouse. Fill those gift boxes with Hoppy Beer gear or new hoodies from your favorite brewery. Avoid a day in the kitchen and order your holiday meal from the neighborhood spot. Ship a pound of coffee or a bottle of Pacific Coast Spirits gin to that favorite aunt or uncle you may not get to see in person this year, and then drink it together over Zoom.

It will be a gift for them (I’m always excited when I can drink presents), a gift for the business and it will feel like a gift for you. There are grace and joy in giving. I hope paying forward a few pints, a few cups of coffee, a few meals will put smiles on a few more faces. I hope our support, combined with so many others’ support, will help keep a few more doors open.

Buy a six-pack for a Health Hero every Monday from Second Chance Brewing!

Be sure to check out the upcoming episode of the Cheers! North County podcast featuring appearances by Elle French from local tequila company Cosa Salvaje and Beer Santa.

Don’t forget to follow Cheers! North County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Got an interesting story about your drinking adventures? Reach out! I want to hear it.