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On March 11, the World Health Organization changed its designation of the COVID-19 coronavirus from an epidemic to a pandemic.
Ten days later, with large swaths of society shut down amid a statewide shelter-in-place order, Concord-based Epidemic Ales brewery is among the Bay Area businesses that have shut its doors — for now.
After closing initially following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call last week for brewpubs, wineries and other businesses to close, Epidemic announced Saturday that it is remaining closed with no to-go orders for the time being.
“We’ll continually reassess this decision day-to-day,” the company wrote on social media. “We’ve had no layoffs and our employees are being paid their expected wages including what they would’ve made in tips and commissions had we been fully functional.”
Co-owner Brian Wang said, “Having the theme be about the apocalypse, we have been thinking about plans ahead of time. Obviously nobody could predict this, but we do have some funds set aside.”
He said, “I think our employees are the ones that have helped us build this fund, it’s time to help them weather through this.”
Wang said having a brewery named Epidemic amid an escalating epidemic has resulted in some extra attention, including accidental mentions on social media, “so we’ve definitely benefited from that.”
He said, as with all other public-facing businesses like their brewery on Mason Circle that hosts food trucks, trivia nights and other events, “financially everyone’s hurting, but marketing-wise, it does help us in getting some attention.”
Wang said he and his fellow co-owners are fulfilling orders themselves for local markets that sell their beers, and have gotten support via gift cards on their website too.
Epidemic Ales had seen an uptick in business following its Lager At World’s End winning a gold medal in the category of “American-Style Lager” at the Best of Craft Beer awards held last month in Bend, Oregon, but now Wang said they’re just waiting like everyone else to see what will happen in the coming days and weeks.
“Every business is going through the same thing,” he said. “You have to do what is safe for everybody.”
Epidemic Ales beers are still available by can in most Whole Foods and Total Wine stores in the Bay Area, as well as local stores like S&S Fast & Easy Mart, Monument Wine and Spirits, Cork N’ Bottle, and Don’s Market & Liquors in Concord, Rotator Taproom in Walnut Creek, Marina Market and Deli in Martinez, Jr’s Discount Liquors in Castro Valley and Aisle 5 in Oakland.
More information about the brewery can be found at www.epidemicales.com.