As part of its strategy to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brisbane’s Ballistic Beer Co has closed its West End site and has turned its Salisbury venue into a drive-thru.
Founder of Ballistic Beer Co David Kitchen said that this may not be the end for the Westend Alehouse & Kitchen, but it was a decision the company had to make.
“There is a hope still that we will reopen the West End,” Kitchen said.
“The short of it was that we would have just dug a deeper hole keeping that one open, so we’re concerting all our efforts into the venue we believe is the most likely to get us through this time.
“We have closed it down and will move the stock to Springfield. At Springfield we have a chance of actually being able to sell down our stock and make a decent effort of being able to continue to do some sort of trade down there, like takeaway food out of the kitchen and beer deliveries.”
He said that they have a lease at the site through to next year, but the team is hoping to cut costs at the site to ensure the ongoing viability of other sites. However it may not be the end for the venue.
“We remain hopeful that it will be viable to reopen the site. We believe it’s an important part of that community. Hopefully we’ll open it again and have it slightly re-modelled and upgraded, so we’ll come out of the corner fighting.”
Ballistic are fighting back in their other sites with virtual happy hours, half-price growler offers and online brew chats with the team. They also made waves yesterday with the launch of their drive-thru at Salisbury.
Kitchen said the team moved all the chairs and tables out allowing cars through, and the team had finalised a deal with another local business, a food truck.
“They’re taking a bit of a gamble with us, so that customers will be able to pick up four pack, pick up their burger and head home – it will be an all-in-one thing for people who are starting to get a bit housebound – they can come in, drink someone else’s beers and someone else’s burgers.”
In addition, Ballistic is hoping to help supply state government orders for hand sanitiser, teaming up with Granddad Jacks Craft Distillery on the Gold Coast, pending government go-ahead.
“We’ll be doing some work with Granddad Jacks distillery in brewing wash for them to distill, because the government is going to distilleries needing a shed load of alcohol-based hand sanitser, and they asked if we could help,” Kitchen explained.
“At Granddad Jacks they have the distillery but not the brewing capacity they need to generate the alcohol that’s needed, while we have the brewing capacity but not the distillery, so we can start working on that, which I’m happy about as it keeps my brewers busy and in work.”
Ballistic is already offering free deliveries for customers, and is looking at ways to diversify its takeaway offering in the coming months.
“We will continue developing different packages in terms of takeaway, and we’re still brewing new beers so we’ll have some fantastic things on for customers in the coming weeks.”
“With deliveries, it’s going surprisingly well, better than I expected. Our customers are remaining loyal to us and continuing to support us and I’m really glad of that.
“It’s such a nice thing, as much as we do to try and support our local communities, now they’re responding and trying to help us, so I’m really happy about that.”
As part of the IBA as its Queensland representative, Kitchen is also seeing first hand the efforts of the organisation to help the industry.
“I have to say any response by the industry at the moment is amazing.
“Pete the chairman has been doing an astounding job, in the first week he’s been on the front foot. Stuff has gone out to the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, they’re working hard to get that message out that we need some sort of assistance.
“We’re all trying hard to get things out that will add value and assist the industry.
“And it’s a good industry to be in.”
Kitchen is also the head of the Queensland Chapter of the IBA, and will be holding a virtual, interactive session with the state’s brewers at 6.30pm tonight, to have a beer with Queensland brewers and discuss any issues and if there’s any opportunity to help one another during this period.