RICHMOND, Va. -- Small business owners throughout the country are grappling with having to close their doors in the wake of COVID-19, but imagine having to shut things down just three days after your businesses grand opening.
That's the situation that Jerry Thornton of Bryant's Small Batch Cider in Richmond found himself in this month. The Cidery opened its taproom doors at 2114 E. Main St. to the public for the for the first time on March 21.
And three days later on March 24, Gov. Ralph Northam mandated that restaurants and bars close their dining rooms indefinitely.
“We’re a four person team, an independent cidery with no investors," Thornton said. "Coronavirus wasn’t really on our radar, we were just plowing forward to try to get open and weren't really expecting any of it.”
Thornton and his team of three had to quickly shift gears from packaging kegs for the dining room to focusing all efforts on canning and setting up an online system.
“We’re small and have a very manual process so we re-purposed our teams hours from being in the tasting room to production, so the team is coming to the farm and we're having big canning runs and spending ridiculous amounts of time canning instead of kegging," Thornton explained.
"The first two weeks we did to go orders, then we built an online store and built that up to people could place orders online," Thornton said. “A lot of people are doing more of the web ordering because they feel more comfortable going online and getting a delivery than going to shop, so to speak."
Thornton's motto throughout the process is simple: "go with the flow and do what we can."
"It’s obviously a lot slower than we we were hoping for but we’ve had a pretty good turnout," Thornton said. “It wasn't too hard of a shift because we were planning on doing more canning anyways, so the timing was fortunate, but having the labor and money to do it was a whole other thing.”
Anyone interested in ordering Bryant's Cider can head to their website and shop online for delivery within the Richmond area.
"We set it up so people can order and do pickup in the store or delivery within Richmond, and then we do pool deliveries for people outside of the Richmond area."