NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Blue Point Brewing Company is raising a glass in honor of its essential workers and those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic while it adjusts to new operations it has been thrust into amid the shutdown of hospitality businesses.
Mark Burford, founder of the Patchogue-based craft beer brand, says his company has always been about spreading cheer.
“Even when things are as tough as they are, it’s our job, internally, to bring fun and joy and we try not to lose track of that at any time,” he said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight focusing on small business survival, sponsored by BNB Bank.
Like most companies, Blue Point is facing the reality of a changed workforce. Employees who can perform their job functions remotely are working from home. Meanwhile, social distancing has been implemented among essential workers at its brick and mortar location for those who manufacture beer. They are so busy that employees are working around the clock. Burford is staggering shifts to sanitize all equipment at its brewery.
“Everybody was given a 10 percent pay raise,” he said of his essential workers. “There’s just nothing really more important than the safety and health of the employees, so take care of people first, and then, as we slowly come back from this, we’ll see if we really ever get to where we were where everybody had to come in every day in the building.”
Blue Point is also giving away beer and food to deserving members of communities on Long Island every week as part of its social media campaign “Toast Your Hero.” They arrive to the winners’ homes or workplaces in style in a blue-pained fire truck they purchased last summer from the Blue Point Fire Department.
“It just puts a smile on everybody’s face,” Burford said, adding, “It’s just a fun thing and we all need a little bit of that levity right now.”
Customers can also buy a meal for just $8 to be delivered without contact to frontline workers from the Blue Point restaurant at its brewery in Patchogue.
He also donated beer kegs to local distilleries.
“There’s one in Patchogue called Better Man Distillery and they changed that beer that would have gone out of code and gone bad and they turned it into hand sanitizer,” Burford said.
His philosophy is simple: Do good for others and good fortunate will return.
“There’s a lot of different ways and avenues that you can help positively impact the situation,” said the brewmaster.
Blue Point’s shipping time to national suppliers has slowed slightly and orders have slumped due to restaurant closures, but local business has been “tremendous” as it serves Long Island heroes of the COVID-19 crisis.
New York State relaxed its alcohol laws to permit delivery, which has opened the door to a new business model.
“It makes you think about what other long-standing rules and regulations that typically would not be able to be changed, but in this scenario could be changed, Burford said, offering, “For other business people out there, even if there’s stuff that you never thought of that might be eliminated or changed, now’s the time to look for that.”