Ballast Point closes Chicago brewpub due to expected winter downturn during coronavirus, eyes reopening in 2021
Ballast Point Brewing is shuttering its Chicago brewpub this month due to an expected downturn in winter business during the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to reopen next year “when the weather is favorable and it is safe to dine indoors,” the brewery said Wednesday.
Fearing a marked downturn in business this winter, several Chicago bar and restaurant owners have speculated that some businesses will be best served by simply closing during the coldest months, just as bars and restaurants often do in resort areas.
Ballast Point is among the first to announce such a plan.
In an announcement on Twitter Wednesday, the San Diego-based brewery cited “the winter months ahead and our ability to generate revenue significantly impacted with limited capacity due to COVID-19” as the reason it will close its Fulton Market pub as of Oct. 24th.
All its Chicago employees would be laid off, the brewery said.
In a text message, Ballast Point owner Brendan Watters said the pub is “definitely reopening” at some point because it is in the midst of a long-term lease on the space launched in 2018, when Ballast Point was still owned by Constellation Brands, whose beer business is based in Chicago.
Ballast Point will continue to pay rent during the closure, Watters said. But paying rent while closed will cost the company less money than paying rent in addition to operating expenses, he said.
“It’s just too tough in Chicago for winter in our space,” he said.
Once a craft beer giant, Ballast Point has struggled in recent years since its founders sold the brewery to Constellation Brands for $1 billion in 2015 at the height of a string of brewery sales. Watters, the founder of tiny suburban brewery Kings & Convicts, shocked the industry by buying Ballast Point for an undisclosed sum in 2019 with the help of wine industry magnate Richard Mahoney.
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