Peticolas Brewing Company has an excellent process for curbside pickup, probably the best I’ve experienced. And though its owner is grateful for the chance to keep business flowing because of that curbside plan, the company isn’t immune from coronavirus-fueled economic anxiety.
On March 16, when Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced changes to restaurants, bars and breweries we’re now all well-acquainted with, things instantly changed for brewery owner Michael Peticolas.
“That Monday, even the Friday before, we were all over this … but Monday, that was full anxiety for me,” he said. “As someone who opened up a business, you always feel responsible for people who work for you. These guys are like family members; the weight of carrying 30 crew members and their families came down on me hard that day.”
When I called Peticolas to speak with him about business Tuesday, the timing wasn’t great.
“Before today, the worst day I’ve ever had at the brewery was the day it caught on fire,” he said. “But today really was the hardest day that I have ever had at the brewery.”
This same Tuesday, two weeks after the industry shifted from the effects of the spread of COVID-19, he had to let team members go.
“Five good people, five people I consider friends, people whose homes I’ve been to, weddings I’ve been at, people I hope to hire back. When you ask how the whole thing is generally, our entire business somewhat changed as a result of the virus,” he said.
Once the rules changed, Peticolas shifted to the curbside service quickly, knowing it would immediately lose tremendous business with bars forced to close their doors.
“I have been a huge fan of our long-term strategy and plan since we started eight years ago,” he said. “This year, we were growing double digits, before having never sold beer in a can. It was all about kegs, selling to bars and restaurants.”
Now, he’s even looking at grocery stores — something that’s possible, but not immediately so. His label isn’t legal to sell in grocery stores yet.
“All our customers were drying up in keg sales, everyone’s closing, so unless they’re doing to-go beer, they’re not moving any kegged beer: That’s the lifeline of our business; it has always been keg beer,” he said.
I left with two cans of Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down imperial IPA, a four-pack of the Irish Goodbye Irish red ale and the Royal Scandal English pale ale.
I could review the beer for you: But it’s Peticolas, we know they make some of the best beer in town (it’s my No. 1 favorite, personally).
After getting home, I resumed my progress on the backlog of magazines I have and quickly got tipsy drinking just one 16-ounce can of Sit Down (10% ABV) while reading the February issue of Food & Wine.
I first developed an appreciation for this beer at the Crafty Irishman when I was living downtown — not every bar carries it, and part of my frequenting that pub was because it served this beer (in a more responsible serving than the grand 16 ounces I consumed this week).
Peticolas just started selling some beer in cans last fall, when Texas breweries became able to sell to-go beer from their businesses. But unlike many other local breweries, Peticolas kept it at that. You got the beer in its taproom or at bars — not grocery stores.
But loyal fans are going to the brewery for the beer they can (for now) get only at the Design District spot.
“We moved from a brewery who was not entirely dependent, but its lifeblood was kegged beer, to one that currently all it has is the beer that we can sell in a can or a crowler through our curbside beer pickup process,” he said. “That’s all we got.”
When it rains, it pours, too. TABC reached out during this coronavirus season to tell him he was being audited — something he doesn’t mind terribly, but it is something that requires more time spent in the brewery when it’s trying to keep as few people in there as possible. (TABC has backed off on the timeline after he reached out with that point, he said.)
Until the business figures out if grocery stores are a possibility, and while bars are closed, it’s looking to Peticolas drinkers to support it.
“These people really are supporting us. We’ve almost accomplished our goals of trying to create a product or company or family that people want to support,” Peticolas said. “For me, it was once we got that [curbside] thing opened, how many people responded.”
If you’re like me and gravitate toward stronger beers, sitting at Peticolas during normal time (non-coronavirus) may mean you drink just one. But, if there’s any silver lining for the consumer right now, it’s that you might as well take a few options with you when you drive away from that curbside pickup. Try the Royal Scandal, for example: That’s one that’s been around for seven years but was gone awhile but now is back.
“It’s fine-tuning what we are doing, and I’m so thankful we were able to set up what this is,” Peticolas said. “The one piece of solace through this whole thing is the absolute huge show of support all of the locals have shown us, helping make that curbside beer pickup a viable stream of revenue for us.”
Peticolas Brewing Company, 1301 Pace St. (Design District). Order ahead of curbside pickup online or by calling 469-270-7851.