By Richard Rourk
Erwin has officially joined neighboring areas, including Johnson City, in allowing businesses that serve alcohol to do so by curbside pick up or delivery.
The measure, which originally came from the state level on March 22, was passed following a unanimous vote by the Town of Erwin Board of Mayor and Alderman during an online Zoom meeting held on Thursday, April 16.
“This is very similar to what other regions are doing,” Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley said following the April 16 BMA meeting. “We have had several business request this measure and these businesses have been shut down since March 22, so with this emergency measure some businesses can open back up.”
Alderman Michael Baker, who owns Union Street Taproom, abstained from the vote. For Baker, the passage of this emergency ordinance will help businesses like his operate during these difficult times.
“The passage of this ordinance is instrumental in businesses like ours to stay afloat as well as offer our patrons a safer way to enjoy craft beer without having to leave their home,” Baker said.
This emergency beer ordinance started across the state after Governor Bill Lee started allowing restaurants and bars to offer beverages to-go.
“His executive order only affected those businesses that were controlled by the state’s (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) which left those businesses like ours, which are not controlled by the state ABC and only controlled by the local beer board, left out,” Baker said. “Municipalities and counties across the state have passed such ordinances to align with the governor’s executive order. I have had business owners and patrons alike ask if delivery options would come available like they have in Johnson City which furthered the need to get this passed by the Erwin Beer Board and Board of Mayor and Alderman.”
For businesses like Union Street Taproom, Lee’s stay at home order has caused a complete shutdown.
“Since Executive Order #17 we have closed our normal hours, but have remained open every Friday evening with food trucks for growler fills only,” Baker said. “Growlers are 32 or 64 ounces commercial to-go sealed containers that the beer is sold in. Now that delivery is an option we have a website that patrons can order online and have their order delivered.”
According to Baker, the ordinance passed by the Town of Erwin will help several businesses and their employees get back to work.
“Since we had to close our doors our number one concern was our employees,” Baker said. “We were able to give them pay in lieu of work while they applied for unemployment benefits. The passage of this ordinance will help us put our employees back to work, and make our loyal patrons happy to see us and still get to enjoy our products all while practicing social distancing.”
Baker acknowledged that getting back to work meant following safe distance guidelines and COVID-19 prevention.
“We have always been a clean and safe establishment, but due to this climate we are extra aware of the importance of doing things safely,” Baker said. “Safety for both our employees and customers is paramount.”
For businesses like Union Street Taproom, this ordinance took the whole community to get several citizens of Unicoi County back to work.
“We would like to thank our employees and patrons for sticking with us during this challenging time,” Baker said. “We would also like to thank former Town of Erwin Recorder Glenn Rosenoff and City Attorney Tom Seely for all of their hard work to prepare this ordinance and their collaboration with fellow municipalities to work hard for their small businesses.”
If you would like to find out more about dates and times Union Street Taproom will be open follow them on Facebook and Instagram. To order delivery service please visit unionstreettaproom.square.site.