AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Breweries and wineries across the Shenandoah Valley, around the state, and throughout the nation are having to adjust their business models due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stable Craft Brewing in Augusta County is offering a curbside pick-up service to keep business going. | Credit: WHSV
Chairs are now empty at Stable Craft Brewing in Augusta County on days when it would typically be hard to find an open seat.
"Things started changing, and it was rapidly changing to the point where you couldn't even plan two days ahead. You had to start thinking hour by hour," owner Craig Nargi said.
He and his team had to quickly adjust to changes caused by the pandemic and had to, unfortunately, start laying off his wait staff.
"Probably in 23 years, I've never had to lay anyone off," Nargi said. "This is the first time in the history of owning and operating my own companies that I've had to do that."
While Nargi said he does plan to bring everyone back on when things return to normal, he said he's had to start looking at things through a different lens.
"When you look at the model of a hurricane, it's kind of like operating your business through that tumultuous period of you don't know if your business is going to be back and when," Nargi said.
But for now, as friends and family cannot gather to enjoy the atmosphere Stable Craft offers, they're making do with what they can offer.
"It's just an awkward and unusual environment, and we're doing the best we can with it. We've been fortunate enough that our supporters and loyalists have been coming out on a regular basis," Nargi said.
Stable Craft Brewing is offering curbside pick-up. People can place their orders online or by calling.
"And if someone wants to walk back to see the horses and they're keeping their proper distance, and not doing it with a large group of people, I feel that we are staying within the orders of executive order 53," Nargi said.
Despite continuing to operate in some capacity, Nargi said sales now are nowhere near where they should be, but he is optimistic to see this hard time through.
"There's no comparing it. The numbers are completely way off, but they're at a point where we'll sustain, we'll be fine. We'll use the hurricane model, and we'll get through it," Nargi said.
And he and his staff are staying busy on the farm.
"We have to feed the animals, tend to the chickens and the hops are starting to come in and the hop yards are ready, so we're going to start preparation there," Nargi said.
They're also using the extra time to work on other projects around the facility, getting ready for when things return to normal.
"I think people are going to be pretty hungry for getting life back to normal," Nargi said. "When you're in this business, you're as much in the atmosphere business as you are in food and beverage, and people want to be a part of that atmosphere. They want to be together."
Nargi said he's hoping for a unique celebration when that day comes again.