CHICAGO (CBS) — Cheese, meat, and pickles; it might sound like a simple snack to you, but one West Town brewery says it’s the key to them serving people indoors amid heightened restrictions.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas reports they were approved for a food license at just the right time.
From a new sidewalk patio to contactless beer delivery, the creative crew at On Tour Brewing keeps the beer flowing, and now tasting room manager Caelie Thoma and the team are thinking outside the box. Because they serve “Adult Lunchables,” they can also serve beer inside. The city currently requires bars to have a license to serve food in order to offer indoor service.
“It’s pretty much a charcuterie plate,” Thoma said of their “Adult Lunchables.” “We’re just trying to survive at this point, and … this seemed like a safe option for us to continue to serve the people that we love serving.”
Throughout the pandemic, bars without food have faced tougher restrictions on indoor service than restaurants. So, ahead of the Chicago winter, On Tour applied for a retail food license last month, even though they don’t have a kitchen.
The license coincidentally arrived in the mail just an hour after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last week that bars that don’t have food licenses would not be allowed to serve customers inside for at least the next two weeks, as the city tries to get the second wave of the pandemic under control.
“Incredible timing,” Thoma said.
Customers must stay socially distanced and wear a mask when not eating or drinking. They’re allowed to just have beer in the tasting room but, per the city’s rules, On Tour must have food available.
“We’re thinking that we’re super lucky that we obtained the license when we did. It would have been a huge disappointment for us,” Thoma said.
The brewery had to comply with a city checklist by buying a grease trap and paying for food safety training for employees. The move also opens them up to more inspections and scrutiny from the Chicago Department of Public Health All worth it, if you ask On Tour.
Asked what she thinks might have happened to On Tour if it hadn’t been approved for a food license, Thoma said, “I am feeling really lucky that I don’t have to think that way.”
“Unfortunately, the word bleak keeps coming to mind. I don’t know what we would do,” she added.
Another changeup in a year that’s been full of them.
The “Adult Lunchables” are made by a local company called Together Now.
To help keep customers snacking on these treats safe, On Tour said they plan to keep their garage door window cracked, and the exhaust fan running even in the cold. They might crank up the heat a little more to keep the tasting room warm and ventilated.
The city is still issuing food licenses during the heightened restrictions.
Source: CBS Chicago