In the two weeks since Lamplighter Brewing Co. stopped serving in its popular taproom, co-founder Cayla Marvil says the company is continuing to pivot, looking for new ways to serve its customers, support its furloughed staff, and help other local businesses.
“It all feels very surreal to me, still,” she says. “I’m just trying to bury myself in work and make the business function.”
Most of the taproom staff is on furlough right now, and they’ve scaled production back a little in the brewery, as well. Marvil wants to get everyone back to work as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the meantime, alongside the retail sales, she is actually broadening her search for commercial customers and seeing how she can help support local businesses whom she knows are being hit hard by the crisis.
“We’re focusing on local suppliers for honey, coffee, grains,” she says. “We’re also going to start distributing to western Massachusetts and Rhode Island to get more outlets to carry our beer.”
Those suppliers include Carlisle Honey and MEM Tea, who are providing ingredients for an upcoming batch of their Group Theory wheat ale. The Lamp purchases all of the cold brew and drip coffee and espresso they sell from their retail counter from Broadsheet, and some of the cold brew also goes into Cuppa, their British ale. Plus, she says they are using Blue Ox Malthouse of Lisbon Falls, Maine, as much as they can—it’s where they source all the grain for their You Won’t American IPA.
“We’re also selling Brewer’s Crackers, a local company producing crackers made from beer-spent grains,” she says, “as well as Indie Ferm kombucha.”
That last would be Plymouth-based Independent Fermentations Brewing & Kombucha; Brewer’s Crackers is based in Somerville.
The Lamp is also working to find virtual ways to carry on their pop-up program.
“We’re working with restaurants we have in the past where they do meal kits that people can pick up, and we include some beer,” she says. “It’s been interesting seeing what works and what doesn’t.”
In fact, on Friday, April 3, they are doing a collaboration with friends who recently opened Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen Brighton, providing beer for a hot wings challenge: Lamplighter provides the beer, and Brato a take-out package with progressively hotter wings. Participants will gather online to see how far they can make it through them.
They’ve even found a way to keep the weekly yoga sessions that were held in the taproom going by letting people participate from home online with the instructor.
While she is waiting for the point where it’s safe to reopen and bring back her staff, Marvil says the company has been able to provide some emergency sick time and is also working with their accountant and others to see what resources are available to their employees from the recently approved federal stimulus package.
“It’s not a good situation for everyone working in the hospitality industry right now,” she says. “I would say our neighborhood and community has been incredibly supportive. We’ve had so many people coming by to say thank you for being open. It’s really humbling for all these community members to come forward.”
The fact that their regulars continue to come by to purchase beer to take home has been “a silver lining of a sort,” Marvil says. And while the sense of uncertainty won’t go away until things have settled down, she still feels reason to be optimistic about the long run.
“It’s terrifying on a personal and business level, for our staff and our product and everything we’ve built over the last three-and-a-half years,” Marvil says. “But I think we’ll make it through, and I see solace in that there’s other small business owners and people I can talk to. We’re in this together and are doing what we can to help each other out.”
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