Effective as of 8:00 a.m. on March 17, 2020, and through at least May 11, 2020, the sale of all liquor, beer, and wine, as well as the sale of food from restaurants, was restricted to carry-out, drive-through, and delivery only, effectively shuttering the doors of many local establishments. These measures were delivered swiftly, with little advance notice, on St. Patrick’s Day, one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

These restrictions were a double whammy for Fortis clients and local entrepreneurs Grant and Niya Gingerich, who are behind both Highlands Square’s el Camino Community Tavern and Berkeley’s beloved Local 46 Bar & Biergarten on the corner of 46th and Tennyson. While the unprecedented restrictions effectively dammed nearly all available revenue streams, they did nothing to temper the operating expenses. With the March 27, 2020 passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) some economic relief is, hopefully, on the horizon.

However, unless and until such economic relief arrives, the lifeline of take-out and delivery is the glimmer of hope that keeps el Camino and its neighbors happy. el Camino now offers take-out and delivery, including pitchers of its famous margaritas to be enjoyed at home alongside its tacos and burritos. Its landlord has waived rent through May, it has reduced its employees’ hours while still giving them some form of income, however, small, and its operating hours have been reduced. Even with these drastic measures, el Camino is operating at a loss and having to tap into other resources to maintain its operations.

Local 46 is a favorite neighborhood bar with limited food offerings until its outdoor grill opens, usually in April. Unable to serve its patrons, Local 46 was forced to lay off all but 2 of its 15 employees just as it was gearing up for its 8th anniversary party to kick off what was expected to be its strongest season yet, full graduation parties and rehearsal dinners. And, while Local 46’s landlord has deferred rent payments by 2 months, at some point the rent must still be paid. Although it is applying for relief that may be available to it under the CARES Act and other local, state, and federal loans and grants, Local 46 is, literally, sending out an SOS signal. Local 46 is now delivering beer, wine, spirits, chips, giant pretzels, toilet paper, latex gloves, and even tampons to your doorstep. 100% of proceeds from purchases from Local 46 from the first week of delivery were used to establish an Emergency Relief Fund for its staff. With revenues down by more than 90%, Local 46 is truly in survival mode, but continues to contribute 10% of its profits to its staff Fund while also checking in with staff each week to ensure their general well-being, offer a cold beer, and information on additional resources to help fill the gaps in these dire times.

The continued sense of community and dedication to the respective staff of both el Camino and Local 46 is most telling of their past and, hopefully, future success. Shop local . . . and order in.

el Camino Community Tavern

Local 46 Bar & Biergarten


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