BUELLETON, Calif. -- Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. is asking customers to either postpone or skip "Dry January" this year in an effort to help boost sales during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, the Buelleton-based company posted the message to its Facebook page.
It said, "Many breweries, wineries, bars, and restaurants are in dire need of your consumption. We ask that you postpone or skip the Dry January. Instead you could ride a bike to pickup your order, exercise and a reward!"
"We asked our customers to support local retail and restaurants and breweries, so we said Drink January," said Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. Owner Jaime Dietenhofer. "I think everyone could use a drink right now, so we're hoping people come out and support local breweries and restaurants."
Instead of observing "Dry January," the brewery is asking people to take part in a new promotion called, "Drink January."
Dry January is an annual effort many people take at the start of a new year to avoid alcohol consumption for a month.
For some, it's a way to "detox" following the holidays, a time where many people drink alcohol more frequently than they usually do.
For others, they simply want to begin the new year by taking a healther approach to their lifestyle, and choose to abstain from alcohol.
Like many other businesses, Figueroa Mountain has been hard hit by the pandemic.
Dietenhofer said the company employed about 200 people before the pandemic began in March. However, over the past 10 months, it's had to furlough at least half of its staff due to COVID-19 related difficulties.
"Figueroa Mountain is fighting through," said Dietenhofer. "Luckily, people are drinking at home and buying at the stores, but we're shut down at the retail standpoint. We're doing takeout and delivery, and so it's tough. It's tough to get that same volume in. Hopefully, something changes and something gives, so we're able to open up the restaurants again, or even outside, but it's a challenge."
With bars closed and restaurants reduced to takeout services only, it has severely cut into sales.
"Before our business was 50/50 package (bottles and cans) versus draft," said Dietenhofer. "When the pandemic hit, it switched heavily to package, so our package business is up, which is encouraging, but the draft business, all the bars and restaurants we sell to in the marketplace are closed, so the draft business is way down."
To help it navigate through the pandemic, the company is hoping customers will support it through the difficult period and continue to purchase its products.
"Everyone has their own choice in what they want to do, but in the past year, what these businesses have had, I think it's important to still come out and support these businesses, irrespective of a health kick, or a new year, or new me kick," said customer Paraic McGarty. "I want to support these local businesses. After a tough year all these businesses have had with Covid, I think a few dollars goes a long way to these businesses."
January is typically the slowest month of the year for the brewery. However, with coronavirus raging on, it's a double-whammy, making community support more important than ever.
"Typically, the first few weeks of January everyone holds off and tries to become a new person, so people are not buying as much beer in general, so I think it's a great switch to have a Drink January," said Dietenhofer. "Hopefully, it catches on and we'll see how it goes. If you are choosing to buy beer, try to buy local, and support those because it truly affects all those around them."
Even as his company struggles through the grips of the pandemic, Dietenhofer is optimistic the business will overcome the many challenges and will see better days ahead.
"I think the only way to get through this as a company or a community is to remain positive," said Dietenhofer. "You can't dwell on the past. Hopefully, with enough focus and support throughout the community, we can get through it. We're taking it day-by-day, but remaining positive."
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. operates six locations including Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara and Westlake Village.