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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s in the Senate Relief Package?

What’s in the Senate Relief Package?

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building rotunda ceiling painting

As expected, the Senate version of the latest Covid-19 relief bill is different from the one passed by the House.

The changes will require the bill to be kicked back to the House, adding to the pressure to get relief to Americans before March 14.

Things may change but below are some of the differences between the two versions.

$15/hour Minimum Wage

This provision is dead in both houses of Congress.

That should come as no surprise as the boost to federal minimum wage was declared dead in the water by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough even before the House voted on the American Rescue Plan Act.

According to reports, removing any and all language that raises federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is the biggest change between the House and Senate versions of ARPA.

Direct Payments to Americans

Chatter online indicates that Senate Democrats are in favor of a drastically lower threshold for $1,400 direct stimulus payments.

The House version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 calls for $1,400 economic impact payments with the following parameters:

  • Individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000.
  • Married couples earning an AGI up to $150,000.
  • Payments phase out, reaching $0 for individuals earning AGI over $100,000 and married couples earning AGI over $200,000.

The Senate version calls for $1,400 payments to phase out entirely for individuals earning an AGI of $80,000 and married couples with an AGI of $160,000.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Let’s be honest, this is why you’re here. Is the RRF safe?

There’s nothing that shows the $25 billion fund is in danger from the Senate. That said, there’s one threat to ARPA in general, “minor” as it may be: game-playing politicians.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans view ARPA as too expensive, too favorable of Democrat’s priorities, and insufficient for addressing the reopening of businesses, schools, and fighting Covid-19.

Those concerns in and of themselves aren’t akin to playing games, nor are they invalid. Vote-a-rama, however, is a time-wasting stalling tactic that allows senators to propose literally hundreds of amendments to a bill. The time limit for vote-a-rama? There isn’t one—it lasts until senators get tired or bored.

Speaking about a coordinated plan to engage in vote-a-rama, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), said he’s “hoping for infinity. There are people talking about trying to set up a schedule and having it go on and on.”

Take Action

Americans simply do not have time for politicians on any side of the aisle to play games. Good-faith negotiations are one thing, delay tactics that last for “infinity” are another.

We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, people are unable to pay their bills, they’re going hungry, and business owners and their employees are suffering.

It seems some politicians have made up their minds and are committed to dragging out the process of passing ARPA and the RRF contained within but we still have our voices. Follow this link to tell your representatives to pass ARPA and RRF now.

Enough games, enough delays, more action.

Image: GO Educational Tours from Pixabay 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building

Congress has once again voted to pass targeted relief for restaurants and bars.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes, made it through Congress by a vote of 219 to 212.

All Republicans and two Democrats voted against the $1.9 billion bill, which now goes to the Senate.

Now What?

After a year of being mostly left to fend for ourselves—save for the flawed Paycheck Protection Program—operators may finally receive some relief.

The $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment, which the American Rescue Plan Act increases to $400 per week, expires on March 14. There’s some pressure on the Senate to pass the bill so it can be signed into law before or by that date.

However, we’ve been down this road before: Congress has voted in favor of a bill that contains relief for restaurants, bars and other foodservice and drinking establishments, the Senate goes a different direction, and the Congressional victory turns to ashes in our hands rather than becoming law.

Democrats control the House. A Democrat sits at the Resolute Desk. And while the 50-50 Senate is “controlled” by Democrats since Vice President Kamala Harris can break tie votes, the party can’t afford any defections if they hope to pass the American Rescue Plan.

Once again, targeted relief isn’t a certainty.

What’s in the Plan?

In short, not the RESTAURANTS Act. The American Rescue Plan provides a fraction of the $120 billion for which the industry has been campaigning for a year now.

Instead, a $25 billion grant program called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has been carved out for restaurants, bars and other eligible providers of food and drink.

There’s another $15 billion allocated for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, and $1.25 billion for shuttered venue operators.

Just $7.25 billion would be pumped into the PPP and the application deadline wouldn’t be extended beyond March 31. This is likely because the PPP has disbursed over $662 billion in just under a year, and there’s still roughly $140 billion available.

In addition, the current bill includes $1,400 direct stimulus payments for individuals earning up to $75,000 or $2,800 for married couples earning up to $150,000. Payments would phase out completely for individuals earning $100,000 or married couples earning $200,000.

What’s the Restaurant Revitalization Fund?

The RRF carves out $25 billion for restaurants, bars, saloons, inns, taverns, lounges, tasting rooms, brewpubs, taprooms, food trucks, food carts, food stands, caterers, and eligible providers of food and/or drink.

Grants, should the bill pass the Senate and be signed into law, will be equal to pandemic-related revenue loss as calculated by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue. Eligible entities could receive of up to $10 million, or a physical location could receive a maximum grant of $5 million.

RRF grants are required to be used for:

  • payroll costs;
  • principal and interest payments on a mortgage, excluding prepayments on the principal;
  • rent payments, excluding prepayments;
  • utilities;
  • supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning materials;
  • F&B expenses within the eligible entity’s scope of “normal business practice” before the covered period: February 15, 2020, through December 31, 2021 (or another date as determined by the Small Business Administration);
  • maintenance expenses, including construction accommodating outdoor seating and walls, floods, deck surfaces, furniture, fixtures, and equipment;
  • covered supplier costs;
  • operational expenses;
  • paid sick leave; and
  • any other expenses the SBA determines to be essential to maintaining the eligible entity.

The SBA would be responsible for awarding $20 billion of the $25 billion fund in “an equitable manner to eligible entities of different sizes based on annual gross receipts.” The remaining $5 billion would be set aside, per the bill in its current form, for eligible applicants with 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less.

Click here to find your senators and urge them to pass the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Image: Jens Junge from Pixabay 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Datassential Finds Operators Optimistic

Datassential Finds Operators Optimistic

by David Klemt

Restaurant open sign hanging in window

The latest report from Datassential finds that the vast majority of operators are optimistic or at least confident their businesses will survive the pandemic.

Per Datassential, operator outlook appears to be more positive than it was in December.

That’s largely due to the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Datassential Covid-19 Resources & Reports

Datassential has been releasing informative Covid-19 reports throughout the pandemic to provide helpful industry, consumer and operator data.

Trending Upward” is Datassential’s 46th installment, and the research firm provides their Covid-19 resources at no charge.

For this report, Datassential surveyed 400 “decision makers for restaurants and on-site foodservice locations.”

Operator Outlook

Most of the operators surveyed, 220 or 55 percent, are still concerned about the challenges facing them and the industry. However, they’re “fairly confident” that their businesses will make it through.

That 55 percent represents no change from December of last year, when Datassential last gauged operator outlook.

The next two survey respondent segments tell the tale of optimism.

Of the 400 operators surveyed, 148 or 37 percent are “cautiously optimistic.” In fact, they expect to be even stronger post-pandemic.

Compared to December, that’s a seven-percent increase in operators who feel optimistic. That seven percent shifted from the “very nervous” segment,

Just 32 of survey respondents (eight percent) reported that they don’t think they’ll survive the pandemic. Losing any businesses to the pandemic and its terrible impact on the industry is beyond horrific, and the results of this Datassential report in no way minimize that awful truth. However, the percentage of operators who feel “very nervous” or otherwise pessimistic reducing by nearly half provides at least a semblance of hope for the future of the industry.

Staff Cuts

According to Datassential, more than 80 percent of operators who were forced to cut staff at some point during the pandemic have been able to bring back some of their workers.

Of the 400 respondents surveyed by Datassential, 21 percent of operators reported they hadn’t laid off any of their employees

Another 20 percent had to cut staff but were able to rehire all of them.

Nearly half (48 percent) have only been able to hire some of the staff they laid off back. Twelve percent have been unable to rehire any of the staff they had to let go.

Takeaway

Optimism is great for emotional and mental health. So is targeted relief. Operators and employees will likely feel far more confident and relieved if the industry receives actual targeted relief. This Datassential report’s findings are positive but we need Congress to act.

Click here to tell your representatives to pass the RESTAURANTS Act now.

Image: Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

I Tried the Mask Made for & by Hospitality

I Tried the Mask Made for & by Hospitality

by David Klemt

Wearing a mask is part of everyday life, particularly for hospitality industry professionals.

DCBL Masks was designed by hospitality professionals for the hospitality industry, born out of their reverence for the workers putting themselves at risk so the communities they serve can retain a semblance of their normal lives.

Their first mask, the X-1, is intended to provide solutions to the problems presented by other face coverings.

Thoughtful Design

One problem with the standard masks and face coverings we’ve grown accustomed to is their tendency to muffle voices. One of the driving design elements behind the DCBL X-1 is the projection of the wearer’s voice.

The X-1 is a three-piece mask and its second layer is what sets it apart from others. The middle layer is sound-enhancing, sculpted foam that allows the wearer’s voice to carry. No more going hoarse from yelling, no more (or less, at least) repeating oneself, no more guests leaning in or stepping closer to hear what’s being said (hopefully).

That second layer is also intended to improve breathability. The inside layer’s design provides an air pocket for similar breathing functionality. It’s also made of natural bamboo so it’s soft, moisture-wicking and cooling, and it receives an antimicrobial treatment.

The X-1’s outer layer is polyester and resists dust and moisture while also protecting against UV rays. There are two flexible “suspension” systems, one for the nose and one to seal the bottom of the mask. Straps are Spandex, ear loops are adjustable, and there’s a clasp system so the wearer can choose how to secure the mask to their head.

Designed by Industry Pros

DCBL is the brainchild of industry veterans Michael Tipps and Homan Taghdiri. Tipps and Taghdiri are the co-founders of both DCBL Masks and Invictus Hospitality, a consulting agency headquartered in Los Angeles.

Tipps boasts over two decades’ experience in hospitality. He got his start in South Florida and has worked every front-of-house position. His journey through hospitality helped him gain perspective regarding the challenges inherent to the industry, and he eventually co-founded Invictus.

Taghdiri worked in hospitaity for 13 years before becoming a licensed attorney in California. He has worked every position in the industry. While he no longer studies law, when he did, he specialized in real estate, business and the hospitality industry.

DCBL’s Mission

There are three main goals DCBL seeks to achieve: Protection, projection, and connection. I’ve explained how they achieve the first two goals.

If the first goal isn’t realized, goals two and three don’t matter. If DCBL whiffs on the second goal, the third is unachievable. The X-1 seeks to make conversation easier when wearing masks so people can feel more connected. Being separated by masks, distance, barriers, and staying at home is detrimental to us all. The DCBL X-1 addresses that issue.

As the DCBL website says, “Staying safe and making a living shouldn’t be as challenging as it has been.” I feel the brand accomplishes their deceptively simple goals.

Impressions

First things first, I didn’t receive my X-1 in exchange for this post or any monetary compensation. I was genuinely curious about the mask and placed an order for two.

My masks arrived in a black bubble mailer, making them seem a little cooler from the start. They were each sealed in their own packet with an insert that explained the three layers, different methods for securing the X-1, machine washing instructions, and more.

DCBL X-1 mask packaging

In my experience, the mask felt soft and comfortable before even putting it on. The X-1 feels like a well-constructed, high-quality mask.

DCBL X-1 Mask

I have to say, I dig the interior layer. Not only is it soft and comfortable, the design detail is a nice departure from the white, black or pale blue to which we’ve all become accustomed:

Inside layer of DCBL X-1 face mask

It’s comfortable on my face and it allows me to speak comfortably, clearly and loudly no extra effort. I wore mine around my place and while writing this article. The ear loops are comfortable for me but the X-1 can be worn easily with an ear loop extension or toward the top of the head with the clasp system.

My glasses did fog slightly at first, but that became a non-issue after I adjusted the nose bridge suspension area.

Other people’s mileage may very, of course, but I feel that the mask delivers on DCBL’s mission statement: Be Heard.

To learn more and order the X-1, click here. connect with DCBL on Instagram and Facebook. Contact hello@dcblmasks.com for wholesale orders.

Disclaimer: The DCBL X-1 is not a medical-grade mask and is not intended as a replacement for medical-grade equipment or other recommended measures to stop the community spread of any viruses.

Images taken by author.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Infographic: NRA Raise the Wage Survey

Infographic: NRA Raise the Wage Survey

by David Klemt

The results of a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association to gauge operator reaction to the Raise the Wage Act are in.

Per the NRA’s infographic detailing the participant responses, there’s not much support for increasing the federal minimum wage and eliminating the tip credit.

What’s in the Raise the Wage Act?

If signed into law, the Raise the Wage Act will represent significant change for employers and employees.

The federal minimum wage will be raised incrementally to $15 by 2025. Two years later, in 2027, the tipped wage will be eliminated.

Survey Results

The NRA surveyed 2,000 restaurant operators between February 2 and 9. Respondents are clearly opposed to the Raise the Wage Act.

National Restaurant Association Raise the Wage infographic

What Does This Mean?

A vast majority of survey respondents—along with the NRA—definitely view the bill as a threat to the industry. An email sent by the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy, includes this succinct statement:

“These results make one point crystal clear—after seeing over 110,000 restaurants close and over 2.5 million jobs lost, increasing labor costs is going to make it more likely that more operators close their doors and lay off their staff. Tipped servers will lose with the end of a system that allows them to make $19-$25 an hour in tips under the current tip credit system.”

To the best of my knowledge, the NRA has not yet conducted a targeted survey of restaurant workers for their opinions of a $15 federal minimum wage and the elimination of the tax credit.

However, fast-food workers from McDonald’s and other chains have gone on strike in at least 15 cities in the United States to demand a raise to $15 per hour. That speaks volumes for how foodservice workers who aren’t typically tipped feel about the Raise the Wage Act.

What’s Next?

According to the NRA, the bill is slated to be fast-tracked and voted on in just a few weeks.

Agree that the Raise the Wage Act is going to hurt operators, workers and the industry? Click here to let Congress know.

Want Congress to pass the bill? Click here to find your representatives and let them know.

Infographic: National Restaurant Association

Image: lucas Favre on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Introducing KRG Momentum

Introducing KRG Momentum

by David Klemt

Seeking an alternative to complete start-up planning and project management? The solution you’re looking for is KRG Momentum.

Just like every operator is unique, each project brings with it distinct challenges that require individual approaches and plans.

Some projects are already under way but need help moving forward. KRG Momentum gives these projects the help needed to cross the finish line and achieve long-term success.

What is Momentum?

Owning a hospitality business may look great on paper, but starting a hospitality business can be really quite stressful:

  • There are what seem to be endless hours of planning.
  • There are numerous third-parties involved.
  • There are often hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake.
  • There are over 500 unique tasks to complete.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first, fifth, or twentieth project—it’s crucial that you be both prepared and organized when opening a new concept or expanding operations.

However, not every project requires our full suite of targeted solutions, which includes feasibility studies, conceptual planning, business planning, brand development, guest experience strategies, food & beverage programs, and operational assessments.

If you’re beyond the idea stage but find your project is struggling to reach the finish line, we’re here to help. And just like a project in its earliest days, you’ll receive the unique, fully customized KRG treatment.

Is Momentum the Solution for You?

KRG Momentum provides a unique, coaching-style program that helps your start-up make continual forward progress:

  • Receive a dedicated consultant who will be an approachable advisor for you and your project. They’ll review and navigate your start-up questions and challenges, and be your compass to provide you with a clear path towards a successful opening.
  • Weekly 1-on-1 video/phone sessions with access to a private calendar: a weekly session in which we evaluate the past week and define required actions for the next week with a focus on budgets, timelines, and industry-specific consulting.
  • Your dedicated consultant is also available for second opinions and the review of: key documents, location, concept, branding, layouts, equipment, menu, service, technology, labor and financial optimization, system development, operations, marketing, and overall strategic clarity.
  • Your consultant will help you see the blind spots throughout your project, positioning you to maintain your budget and desired opening date.
  • Your consultant will help you make strong, educated decisions throughout your start-up project that will have a positive impact on the successful start of your restaurant, bar or hospitality brand.
  • And finally, your advisor will coach you so you become more confident, energized, and motivated about your opening while holding you accountable and helping you become a better leader through the creation of new habits, communication methods, and decision-making processes.

Click here to schedule a call.

Or, if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach where we develop the winning plans and property for and with you, we invite you to learn more by choosing your preferred option: Restaurants & Cafes, Bars & Lounges, Boutique Hotel & Resorts, or Golf, Gaming & Entertainment.

Images: KRG Hospitality

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Los Angeles Restaurants Face New Outdoor Dining Restrictions

After Weeks of Prohibition, This is What Los Angeles Restaurants are Facing

by David Klemt

Limited to delivery and takeout for several weeks, Los Angeles restaurants and breweries may now offer outdoor dining.

Of course, that easing of restrictions comes with a raft of new limitations.

The outdoor dining ban was lifted last Friday, January 29. Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded California’s statewide stay-at-home order four days prior, January 25.

Operators, still caught firmly in the vortex of opens, closures and ever-shifting restrictions, will have to weigh the potential to generate in-person dining revenue against limitations and costs.

Outdoor dining capacity of restaurants, breweries and wineries (able to open for outdoor tastings) is restricted to 50 percent. Even an operator with a significant outdoor footprint may find the revenue generated from in-person dining incapable of offsetting associated costs.

Speaking of footprint, operators must also contend with new distance requirements. Outdoor tables must now be spaced a minimum of eight feet apart to ensure guests aren’t seated back to back. This increase from six feet must be measured from the edges of each table.

Any employee who “may come in contact” with a guest is required to wear a face mask and a face shield for the duration of such an interaction, which can’t include tableside preparations.

No live entertainment is permitted, and televisions must remain turned off. Couple the television ban with a prohibition on “coordinated, organized or invited events or gatherings” and Super Bowl parties are clearly not permitted.

Additional limitations pertain to guests and group size. No more than six people may be seated at a table, and each guest must be a member of the same household. Signage informing guests of the household requirement must be posted, and guests must also be given this information verbally.

A “household” in Los Angeles County is defined as “persons living together as a single living unit.” Click here for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health’s “Protocol for Restaurants, Breweries and Wineries: Appendix I.”

According to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County health director, operators can expect increased scrutiny and enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.

Evidence of enhanced enforcement efforts was seen last week. LA County filed two suits on January 27 against Cronies Sports Grill in Agoura Hills and Tinhorn Flats in Burbank for failing to adhere to health directives. Both suits label the establishments as “public nuisances.”

Some Los Angeles operators may find limited outdoor dining better than no in-person dining at all. However, others may conclude that labor and PPE costs alone aren’t worth restricted reopening, to say nothing of contending with increased governmental scrutiny.

Image: David Mark from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

California’s Restrictive Regional Stay-at-Home Order Rescinded

California’s Restrictive Regional Stay-at-Home Order Rescinded

by David Klemt

Expectation became reality yesterday when Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded California’s highly restrictive regional stay-at-home order.

It had been reported for at least a day prior that Gov. Newsom was expected to do so on January 25.

The order, which choked the life out of restaurants, bars and other businesses, has been in place since the start of December 2020.

As we reported several weeks ago, a group of Orange County operators pushed back against the order shortly after it was imposed. The #OPENSAFE collective released a statement announcing their intention to protest Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order by remaining open for in-person dining.

Other states that imposed seemingly arbitrary and illogical orders that crushed restaurants and bars also experienced open defiance from operators. One of the highest-profile protests came from New York City restaurants.

Speaking for the first time in well over a week about California’s efforts to combat Covid-19, Gov. Newsom said, “Everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down.”

That’s an interesting claim given California experienced a record number of Covid-19-related deaths on January 21 with 761. During his press conference, the embattled governor claimed he lifted his stay-at-home order due to ICU numbers and not because of the multiple lawsuits filed against him or the current recall campaign.

Rather, Gov. Newsom said that he made his decision based on Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing while vaccination rates are reportedly trending upward. However, as one source cited, just 26 percent of California’s allotted vaccine doses had been administered as of last week.

The rescinding of the regional stay-at-home order doesn’t mean that businesses can reopen and resume operations as usual. Each of the state’s counties will be color-coded according to California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Projections will be set aside for actual transmission rate data.

Tier 4 is color-coded yellow and its Covid-19 transmission risk is labeled “Minimal.” Tier 3 is orange and “Moderate,” where as Tier 2 is red and “Substantial.” Tier 1, which is purple, is labeled “Widespread.”

At the moment, most counties in California are purple.

Restaurants located in a Tier 1 county can offer only outdoor in-person dining. Those in Tier 2 can offer indoor dining but only at 25-percent capacity or 100-person maximum capacity (whichever is lower). Tier 3 bumps capacity to 50 percent or 200 people, and Tier 4 dictates a maximum of 50 percent capacity.

As expected, bars (along with breweries distilleries) that don’t serve food receive much harsher treatment than restaurants. Those located in a county designated purple or red must close. Bars in orange counties can open for outdoor service only, and those in yellow counties can offer indoor service at 50-percent maximum capacity. Bars “where [a] meal is provided” follow restaurant guidelines for the four applicable tiers.

Movie theaters, for context concerning how bars are being treated, are subject to the same guidance as restaurants in California’s blueprint. Such venues aren’t exactly known for providing meals.

Before operators who have chosen to work within California’s guidelines throw their doors open, they need to know two things. One, county officials are permitted to impose their own restrictions. If they choose to do so, those restrictions can be stricter than those that come down from state officials.

Two, for those operators in Los Angeles County, confusion remains regarding outdoor dining. Some interpret the rescinding of the state’s prohibition on outdoor dining as a lifting the ban. However, LA County implemented its own ban before the state did so. That county-issued ban expired on December 16 but outdoor dining was banned under the statewide stay-at-home order.

It may seem cut and dry that the expiration of the county order and the lifting of the state’s ban shifts LA County to Tier 1 restrictions. Operators should make sure they’re clear to resume outdoor service before incurring the costs associated with doing so.

How long California will revert back to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy is anyone’s guess. Operators in several states have found themselves caught in a vicious open-close, open-close vortex. At any rate, 25-percent capacity restrictions will still more than likely make it more cost-effective for some operations to remain closed for indoor service.

Image: Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

by David Klemt

Doubters and detractors of non-alcoholic beer have only to look at Athletic Brewing Co. to understand the category has a long, bright future ahead of it.

Athletic Brewing opened its first taproom in Stratford, CT, back in May of 2018. A month later, the non-alcoholic brewer signed on with a distributor to launch two of their flagship beers statewide. Two years after that milestone was reached, Athletic took over a 100,000-barrel capacity facility in San Diego once owned by Ballast Point.

That would be impressive growth for any brewer, traditional or non-alcoholic. But there’s another element that really highlights the explosive growth and potential of Athletic: investment rounds.

In August of 2017, Athletic raised $250,000 in seed funding. One year later, in September, the brewer raised $500,000 in another seed funding round. A third funding round resulted in $3,122,221 in December 2019. And then came March 2020: Athletic raised $17,500,000 in Series B funding.

According to a report written by Kate Krader and published earlier this week by Bloomberg, some of Athletic’s investors are celebrities, something that had remained quiet for a few years now.

David Chang, the founder of Momofuku, NFL players Justin Tuck and JJ Watt, and Lance Armstrong are some of the celebrity backers identified by Krader as Athletic Brewing Co. backers. According to Crunchbase, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, participated in the 2020 Series B funding round.

That these investments remained under the radar shows that celebrities and other investors believe Athletic and the non-alcoholic beer category is here to stay.

We’ve grown accustomed to celebrity-backed spirits and wines. At least three celebs have scored massive paydays in spirits. George Clooney and Rande Gerber sold Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion in 2017. Last year, Aviation Gin, owned by Ryan Reynolds, sold to Diageo for a deal worth up to $610 million.

Athletic is one of the brewers we showcased in our January 1 article “0.0 to 0.5 Beers to Know for Dry January and Beyond.” We shared some of Athletic’s story and how founder Bill Shufelt was motivated to fill a void in the market. Namely, refreshing and flavorful non-alcoholic craft beers.

Shufelt, like so many people who have chosen to live an alcohol-free lifestyle or reduce their alcohol intake, still enjoys going out to bars and restaurants to socialize. Athletic and other non-alcoholic brewers offer guests a drinking and dining experience without a sacrifice in quality.

I can clearly see an opportunity for people to invest in Athletic Brewing Co., Partake Brewing, WellBeing Brewing, Surreal Brewing Company, and others moving forward. It’s obvious that craft non-alcoholic beers have a future beyond Dry January, and it’s likely more talented brewers and celebrities will enter the category. In fact, 2021 may be the Year of NA Beer.

Image: Athletic Brewing Co.

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