“Social distancing and beer consumption kind of don’t really go hand in hand,” said David Fields with Wormtown Brewery.
The Worcester brewery is one of thousands of Massachusetts small businesses hit hard by the restrictions put in place to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“We lost 70% of our customer base,” Fields said.
Although liquor store sales have been booming, that only accounts for about a quarter of Wormtown’s business.
Their original taproom in Worcester and new location at Patriots Place have been shuttered, while bars and restaurants that sell their craft beers on tap have closed or transitioned to take out.
“We, the following week, had to furlough almost our entire team,” said Fields, “but we’re happy to say that at this point in time everybody is back and working.”
That’s because the brewery was one of more than 400 small businesses that were approved by Oxford-based bankHometown for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
While the PPP has had well-publicized problems elsewhere, bankHometown President and CEO Rob Morton says that hasn’t been the case locally as the second round of the program takes effect.
“I expect when all is said and done, we will have helped between 700 to close to 750 businesses and will have funded close to $70 million,” Morton said.
Morton says it’s incredibly important to keep these small businesses afloat now, so when we do go back to what is sure to be a new normal, these businesses – and the jobs they provide – will still be here.
“This provided them with a lifeline, so they felt that at least they had some financial support, to kind of get through this pandemic,” he said.
And that fits right in with Wormtown’s motto.
Fields said, “We just want everybody to remember, Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy.”