Two months into shutdown of on-premise establishments forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, 42 North Brewing Company’s drive-thru, beer-to-go business in East Aurora, New York — located about 24 miles east of Buffalo — has held steady.
“I thought the first week the numbers that we saw from out of our drive-thru would be kind of the honeymoon period,” founder John Cimperman told Brewbound. “It’s been steady. It’s been predictable.”
Helping maintain that business has been a steady stream of new beers; 42 North is launching a new beer each Saturday in May.
“What that’s done is it’s encouraged people to come back through the drive-thru for new things,” he said. “So they’ll come in for a new release, and while they’re there in our drive-thru, they’ll pick up three or four of our core beers as well.”
Also driving that business has been a core group of fans who prioritize supporting local businesses, as well as consumers making the drive from nearby Buffalo who want to get out of their homes, Cimperman said.
In April, 42 North sold more beer than it did in April 2019. Still, even with business up, the higher margins of selling directly to consumers in the brewery’s taproom were lost.
“While we have sold more beer this year compared to last, it’s all in cans,” Cimperman said. “And we’ve got to make up with more volume to keep those margins.”
In the video above, Cimperman discusses how long 42 North is sustainable in the current business climate, the importance of brewers guilds in expanding privileges during the pandemic and why 42 North won’t be rushing to reopen even when New York gives the green light.
Visit Brewbound’s YouTube page for more videos on how leaders in the craft brewing industry are meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, join us every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST for Brewbound Frontlines, a live-streamed panel discussion with beer industry leaders. On May 21, the conversation will focus on the growth of e-commerce for the beer category, with Rabobank analysts Bourcard Nesin and Jim Watson, Drizly director of consumer insights Liz Paquette and GoPuff director of alcohol Randy Ornstein.