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'Dry January' an added headache for restaurants, breweries during pandemic

Figueroa Mountain Brewing
Breweries like Figueroa are depending on to-go alcohol sales during the pandemic.

Over the past decade, people around the world have started to observe 'Dry January,' abstaining from alcohol for the month for a healthier start to the new year. But one Central Coast brewery is hoping people place that goal on hold this year.

Typically this month, sales dip at restaurants, wineries and d as people take part in Dry January, said Jaime Dietenhofer with Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. But he says, this year, the observance can add even more stress for businesses struggling to stay afloat. 

“It goes without saying that it is unprecedented, but it’s been tough to adjust," Dietenhofer said. "Not knowing is tough to adapt to, it's tough explaining to customers and employees what you’re doing because no one really knows.”

Dietenhofer said with his six Figueroa breweries spanning from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo County, it’s hard keeping up with all the regulations, with each county is handling rules differently and each business is deciding how they want to go about operating. 

“You don’t want to do anything wrong, and lose your license and not be able to operate," Dietenhofer said. "So there's that fear...but you also want to be able to do what the other restaurants are doing or keep up with business if you can.”

In an effort to help businesses during COVID-19 shut downs, Dietenhofer has started a "Drink January” campaign instead. He said he hopes people find the campaign humorous, and isn’t encouraging anyone with any alcohol related addictions to give up their sobriety. 

“I think it’s kind of multifold," Dietenhofer said. "One, I think everyone could use a drink right now. Also I think from restaurants, and breweries and wineries in general, they could really use your support right now.”

Dientenhofer said while food sales are a large revenue source, it's alcohol sales that are really the driving margin in the industry.

“ So I think that’s kind of the key, is making sure that alcohol sales are there, " Dientenhofer said. "Always drink responsibly, but you can do so at the comfort of your own home along with you food take-out. We are going to get through this together, and might as well do it with a beer in your hand.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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