Brewing company in Youngstown struggles with inconsistency the pandemic brings

Coronavirus

Penguin City Brewing said all of the changing mandates, including the latest that stops alcohol sales in Ohio after 10 p.m., force them to readjust how they do business

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses across the Valley have faced setbacks. The owners of Penguin City Brewing said like everyone else, they’re just trying to stay afloat.

“Every day, it seems like there’s something new and I have to quickly adapt my business to deal with it in this industry,” co-owner Aspasia Bernacki said.

As a thriving brewing company in Youngstown, Penguin City is known for the beer you drink or buy in area stores and restaurants.

When the lockdown happened and bars and restaurants closed, the company lost half of its sales.

“We had to focus more on our off-premise, and that meant I had to cut my staff in half and I had to get to the bare bone of the business to survive just doing off-premise,” Aspasia said.

Not only did this force them to decrease their staff, but the brewery also took a loss in the number of clients it serves.

“A lot of people had to stop ordering as much,” said Ryan Shea, a sales representative. “They wanted to have a better understanding of what was coming in the future, closing or not. So it was just a lot of dialogue like that.”

“Our small packages, like cans and bottles, have been doing well but kegs have dropped dramatically and it’s really affected our flow and income,” co-owner Richard Bernacki said.

Although bars and restaurants are back open, the Bernackis said business has not been consistent, especially now that an emergency executive order to end alcohol sales in Ohio after 10 p.m. has been approved.

“Some days, it’ll be heavy and we will deliver a lot and then all of a sudden, if they say bars are going to close at 10, everyone gets scared and that affects us,” Aspasia said.

She said that’s on top of the setbacks they’re already trying to overcome.

“When you get these roadblocks of, now they’re closed at 10, it hurts and now we have to readjust and figure how do we make this work now?”

Like many businesses, the brewery has faced its share of challenges because of COVID-19 but Aspasia said that’s the beauty of Youngstown. It’s a city of fighters who get back up when they’ve been knocked down.

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