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July 30, 2020 covid stories

COVID Stories: Young brewery in Franklin accelerated its year-one plan

Photo | Courtesy of 67 Degrees Brewing Co. The crew at 67 Degrees Brewing Co. in Franklin

67 Degrees Brewing Co., a microbrewery in Franklin, opened just a month and a half before having to shut down because of COVID-19.

Its sales dropped to less than a third overnight and caused the need for quick changes in its business model, said owner Olivier Edouard.

“We have to re-evaluate our six-month and one-year plan to fit with the current market conditions,” said Edouard.

Therefore, Edouard closed the taproom and began canning beers so he could do curbside pickup. 

“It was a challenge in itself because we originally did not plan to package our beer for another six months and canning for a small microbrewery can be very expensive,” said Edouard. 

To get the curbside business started, he hired a mobile contract canning company to can the large amount of beer he had and to start getting his beer into customers' hands.

He then continued the canning process himself and with his partners, working long hours throughout the week, with an Oktober Can Seamer allowing for individual canning.

“When you’re a small business owner, you wear multiple hats. We just had to band together and do what we had to do to get our product packaged and out the door,” said Edouard. 

Edouard and his partners developed an online store, which was not in their original year-one plan, said Edouard. 

The combination of curbside pick up and the new online store were popular enough to keep 67 Degrees afloat while being shut down.

“Like most small businesses, we just tried to be as thoughtful as we can about what we spend money on while doing as much as we can to keep the company in the mind of the local area,” said Edouard. 

Edouard utilized social media to engage the community and keep growing its customer base.

“The pandemic has forced breweries, both new and old, to be more creative on how to attract and grow a fan base and get their products to market,” said Edouard. 

67 Degrees was able to get an outdoor seating permit and a food permit from the Town of Franklin. It opened outdoor seating in Phase Two of Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic reopening plan and can now seat 50% capacity outside and 50% inside. 

“The town has been great to work with to get the right permits,” said Edouard.

Now instead of customers coming to the tap, servers, wearing masks, go to tables and take orders. 

“Before at a microbrewery, you bring your own food, go to the tap, and get whatever you want and take it back to your chair,” said Edouard, “now we’re essentially operating like a restaurant.”

Other safety regulations 67 Degrees employs include hand sanitizer stations, having customers socially distant, and frequent cleaning.

Because patrons can no longer bring their own food, 67 Degrees teams up with caterers and local restaurants to have pop-ups in its space, providing customers with food while 67 Degrees strengthens its relationships with other local businesses. 

Edouard is hoping the town will allow food trucks to come to places like 67 Degrees at some point because food trucks complement his business well. 

67 Degrees has live entertainment on some Thursdays and weekends.

“It’s a draw for a lot of people in our town,” said Edouard. “It has encouraged more people to come out and experience some normalcy again.”

Moreover, the popular “Shop local” mantra and community support has allowed small businesses like 67 Degrees to survive, said Edouard. 

“Local support has been the thing that has gotten us through this hard time,” said Edouard.

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