Our update this week comes from the heart and from a "now smaller" family business that is also now larger. I have heard and felt your support in so many ways. We thank all of you that have been able to purchase beer from our online store https://civil-life-online.square.site/ or have purchased from any of our retailers in St. Louis and Illinois. We have a good deal of beer to sell to keep our little ship afloat. I also appreciate all the text messages and public posts that let us know that you are thinking about the Civil Life.
Colleen, Sabine (our first daughter) and I welcomed our newest family member on April 15th, when future do-gooder Greta Marian Hafner joined the ranks of kids on earth. One day she will look in the history books and realize that she was born during the pandemic. It is no doubt a source of joy and also a great diversion from what has been an increasing time of uncertainty for the Civil Life. The first picture on the left up top was Greta's face when I told her the pub was closed. I share her pain. Not a day goes by that I don't think of all of you who supported us over the years. I quickly told her not to worry, that I have a great group of employees and all of us are going to figure a way through this (2nd picture). She settled down in the last picture but as with all of us navigating this new world, she no doubt still has a bit of concern. Choosing how to proceed through this no doubt will be one of my life's greatest challenges and likely is going to present additional moral/business dilemmas down the road.
This pandemic has already put me in a position of delivering messages that no business owner ever imagined. Laying off staff always seemed to be something that I wouldn't have to worry about. I have been a small business owner for over 19 years. I often tell my staff or volunteers after our anniversary party that all of these pipe dreams of an owner and founders (Mike and Dylan) can't be done without the help of so many people that believe in what we are doing. No one person is responsible for the success of Civil Life. It takes all of you to make the Civil Life what it has become. Our staff, our regulars and all of our customers no matter how many times you come and where you buy our beer.
I took a bit of time after closing the pub to inventory our little business and thoroughly delve into the many decisions put before the Civil Life. The PPP (payroll protection program) looks like it works well for some but it just wasn't the right path for the Civil Life and I feel really missed the mark for so many of our small family owned businesses. We did get an emergency grant from the government of $10,000 . This was a huge help as it help put a large dent in the severance I paid to each of our furloughed staff. During this process, I also realized I have been lucky over the years and one of my business philosophy's finally seemed to have served me well. It's an old saying from a good friend of mine, thanks Tuan, that I have always took to heart and it's simply, "Be allergic to overhead." Last week, after considerable time looking at our monthly expenses and knowing I didn't have time to physically put in the many many hours needed to work through this mess we furloughed our remaining employees (Dylan, Mike and Dustin). The overall intention was to give our city time to get past the curve and also for us to recharge and re-group. All of us have kids so it gave us and our families a little bit of a breather as well. There are few other sayings I live by but I will save them for another time.
We are selling online and orders can be picked up from 2 to 6 pm Saturdays and Sundays.
Dylan called me last Tuesday and remarked how odd it was not to have something actively fermenting. We talked yesterday and during that conversation I realized it's been over 10 years since I haven't seen him and Mike at least 5 times a week. What odd times we live in. Chris, Patrick, Joe, Mike and Dylan had all worked with me at the Civil Life for over 8 years at this point. No doubt Lyzz, Kari, Martha, Emily, Dave, Dustin and Augie all want things to get back to normal at the ole Civil Life as well. I do too and it's so odd to think that the less we do, the less contact all of us have is the only way to shorten the time before we can pack the Civil Life again. I have realistic hope for better treatments and a vaccine. Please note emphasis on realistic. We'll get there. I suspect it won't be easy and I suspect it will take more time than what we inside hope it will take.
Our goal right now is to re-group and re-energize for what I feel is going to be a long slog coming up. Dylan, Mike and Dustin and I are currently set to come back to work full-time in June. This will give us time to work through a better plan for our success over the coming year. It also will give us time to sell all the beer we have in the cooler so we can make room to store more cans. We have plastic growlers coming May 10th!!! In the meantime, if you don't see our beer out in the market please utilize our online store to stock up. We currently have American Brown, Cream Ale, Rye Pale, Sara-Lou Brew (German Wheat). I'll be adding merchandise next week to the store as well.
It's odd writing an email like this where I now am officially the only one left at the Civil Life. It sure isn't the future I had imagined. I did already make some changes to the employee manual concerning how much beer one can drink while working. I am going to need a good deal of the sweet taste of Civil Life to make the right decisions for our smaller company. Just know that any purchase of the Civil Life goes to support a small business in St. Louis. My wife, kids and I live in Tower Grove South. My daughter and I still pick up trash on Holt Street and Beck just not as often (thanks to my friend Margaret who has been picking it up when I haven't been able to). There are so many small business owners in this great city that make our neighborhoods better places to live. Please continue to support locally owned. Most of our staff (whom we hope to welcome back as soon as we can) lives in the city as well. We have no big investors to worry about but we do have a sizable bank loan so every purchase of our beer really does keep the dream alive.
I'll be posting more frequently as our plan emerges and also to stay in touch. My time behind the bar talking with you has always been my favorite part of the Civil Life. This will have to do for now.
We have our online store linked throughout this blogpost. Orders placed online can be picked up Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 pm. All details are at https://civil-life-online.square.site/ I have staff there this weekend but will be back next. Since we were all in the hospital for Greta's delivery, I am on a 14 day hiatus from humans outside of my wife and kids.
Be well my Civil friends, Stay tuned and be well. We'll get through this together.
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.