In the new economic world of COVID-19, relief did not come fast enough for veteran-owned 1933 Brewing Company.
It was a perfect storm leading to owners Rick Renteria and Trish Crespo’s decision to permanently close the restaurant, Renteria said.
The brewery owners applied for relief loans like the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but they had one month to receive relief before they were unable to make rent.
“We never received the help we needed in time,” Renteria said.
The brewery did not receive the PPP loan. They did get the EIDL, but by the time they received it, the couple missed their rent in April, Renteria said.
“From a business perspective, it makes no sense to continue to operate. On top of that, our landlords weren’t willing to work with us on rent.
“We essentially couldn’t make rent for the month of April, so we had to shut down our business,” he said.
Renteria said it was like moving mountains to start their business, and it has been challenge after challenge since. The brewery opened in August 2018.
“Between road construction and COVID-19, for those first two years, it has turned out to be hard to survive,” he said.
Construction on Southern Boulevard from September 2018 to December 2019 pulled 1933 Brewing Company’s revenues down, and COVID-19 closures halted its profits. Renteria said it was a smart business decision to close.
Renteria said January is a rough month in general for the restaurant industry and 1933 Brewing Company did OK. In February, the eatery saw a huge increase in sales, he said. Then everything turned on a dime in March.
On March 11, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public-health emergency, limiting restaurants’ capacity and later restricting them to delivery and to-go orders.
The loan was a short-term solution, Renteria said.
“What is your long-term solution?” he said. “For example, let’s say I would have made the rent for April; we are three months into this thing, so we would have had to have this same conversation in May; we are going to have this same conversation in June.”
He and Crespo tried to-go orders, but the business wasn’t designed for that operation, Renteria said. The brewery signed up for delivery services through MyTown2Go and Door Dash, but orders were scarce.
“It was costing the business more money than what we were making on to-go orders,” he said.
Renteria said the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce was a reliable resource, but not a lending option. The chamber helped businesses navigate the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“In the early stages of COVID-19, no one knew what was going on,” Renteria said. “No one knew what to do. All we were told was to go on SBA (website) and apply for the business emergency disaster loans and to get your stuff ready for the PPP loan. But no one knew when that was going to become available or whether we were going to get it or not.”
He said small businesses cannot be shut down with no plan in place to help them. Businesses were unprepared, and SBA was overwhelmed with requests for aid.
There were three drafts of the EIDL application before a final draft was available online, according to a Zoom conference hosted by the chamber April 8.
“Financially we cannot open up elsewhere. It is hard to recover in business from something like COVID-19 shutdowns unless a business has endless amounts of capital,” Renteria said.
He said it is unfortunate, but it is business and he and Crespo are excited to explore what is next for them. Renteria said there are no plans to re-open 1933 Brewing Company.
“It was a tough decision to make. Both my wife and I put our careers on hold to make this business work. We were there day and night, seven days a week, from open to close with no day off,” he said. “It is a tough decision to make, but it is one that had to be made.”