The Truth About Us: Guardian’s Covid-19 Update

To our Guardian Beer Family,

We decided to have a chat with Lucy (from Peanuts) and she said it would be a good idea if we opened up and shared more of Guardian’s happenings with our community. So, here we are and we would like to share a few thoughts and feelings with all of you, because you’re important to us.
(Disclaimer: This is a long post, but an honest one. Thanks for hanging in until the end.)

The truth is important.

Team Guardian is hanging in there. Our entire team is healthy and we are focused on getting through this together. I gave all the staff the option of staying on and working or being temporarily laid off a couple weeks ago. As of today, we are down to 7 employees from 25 on March 13. We do not believe that forcing essential staff to stay on shift when they might feel safer at home is any way for us to do things…so, we are down to 7 amazing staff who are committed to saving Guardian. Through all this, even our COO, Kate, has chosen not to take a salary for the past month while working full-time so that our full-time and hourly staff can continue to be paid in-full, on-time. We’re all contributing in our own way. We hope to be able to hire our entire team back after this is over, but we do not know when it will be over and what our industry will truly look like afterwards.

Our goal is to be a light in the dark.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, even before the shut-down and Stay-at-Home mandates, we were conflicted. We want to provide a safe working environment for anyone that wants to work, but were concerned about whether we could really protect our team from the virus. How can we provide something worthwhile to our community and also keep our doors open so we can survive this as a business? The longer our doors stay open, the better the chances are that we will be in business at the end of this. We’re only 1.5 years old as a business in Michigan and may not be able to receive grants or loan funding, and sadly, we have not received a penny at this point, from the state or the federal government.

I need to talk about a hard truth for Guardian’s present and future…When we planned Guardian, we always saw our place as a destination, not a product to buy on a store shelf. We are so much more than beer! We HAVE a brewery full of consistent and creative recipes and a restaurant with locally-sourced food, but we ARE a Mug Club, a haven for trivia junkies and beer nerds, a Beer School, an outdoorsy spot, a dog-friendly establishment, a place to try something new, a place to get married, most importantly a place to meet and gather.

Guardian has a Brewpub License with a Class C Liquor License. In Michigan, this means that we can sell our beer (made on-site) and anyone else’s alcohol, of any type. While having this license is an asset to us every day our dining room is open (because this means that there is something for everyone!), it also means that we CANNOT sell our beer off-premise, in stores or in restaurants. Being a destination brewery is a beautiful niche to fill in West Michigan, but it necessitates that people visit Guardian to get their beer. The truth of our choice to get this type of license means that we HAVE TO STAY OPEN during the Covid-19 virus. We are more like a restaurant than a brewery in times like these.

We have complete respect for all the local businesses that chose to close. Since I wear my feelings on my sleeve, I have already shed tears for friends’ breweries that have closed for good. It’s so sad to see all of their hard work crumble. Thankfully, there are a bunch of Michigan breweries that can afford to close their doors to food carry-out and delivery because they are still selling beer in grocery and party stores. We do not have that option. In order for us to survive this, our community must come see us and purchase something. Any purchase is appreciated, as we are still functioning at more than a 50% loss in income at this point, after 3 weeks.

WE ARE STILL HERE and our doors are open because of BECAUSE OF YOU!

Currently “Tiny Team Guardian” is focusing on self-care and building a weekly work schedule that is flexible to staff needs, but hopefully will meet the food and beer needs of our community as well. We have been providing carry-out food and beer, as well as a variety of delivery options to our local areas since the shut-down. Did you see my 10,000 posts about all the beer deals we have each week for Growlers, Howlers, and Crowlers? Well, we have 22 beers on tap, so get psyched and come get your favorite beer!

Thanks to all of your support, we have been able to pay employees on-time, our bank loan, utility bills, taxes, and have had the ability to purchase fresh ingredients for our food (like greens from Mud Lake Farm, yum!).

In all sincerity, I feel the tears running down my face as I write this. The depth of our gratitude is something I lack words to describe. Are there adjectives that describe overwhelming gratitude for deciding to support and save our business? If so, I have not learned the word yet, but I know how it feels.

Photo by Al Olesen

We are choosing to fill an essential role for our community.

I know that everyone does not see beer as essential, but half of Guardian is a restaurant. We are thankful for Chef Dan, Jon, and Cal kickin’ it in the kitchen each week, so we can bring delicious food to you. In the meanwhile, Kate, Liz, Mel, Holly, and Dennis are keeping it ridiculously hospital-clean in Guardian nowadays, using a quaternary-type sanitizer that the CDC recommends for killing major germs, bacteria, and viruses like Covid-19, HIV, Hepatitis and more. Because we have the right tools and cleaning regimens in place, we feel comfortable filling outside Growlers and Howlers. We actually dip them in the quad sanitizer, then rinse them well and fill them. If you do not own a Growler or Howler, do not worry; we have glass bottles and Crowlers for sale with our logo on them for a small fee.

All menus – food and beer – are kept up-to-date on our website daily. I just brewed a Sea Salt Brown Ale to be aged in Maker’s Mark Bourbon barrels yesterday. It smells like brown sugar, dark fruit, and toast and will be enjoyed 6-8 months from now during a time of health and wellness…a time to celebrate.

Speaking of new items…here’s our new Eloté turkey salad sandwich!

Thanks Chef Dan for keeping our options fresh and making a new sandwich for the weekend.

Our Eloté turkey salad sandwich is served on a toasted ciabatta roll with queso fresco and lettuce. Served with Great Lakes potato chips for $10.

Call 269-543-2238 to place your food and beer orders. We will deliver to Saugatuck and Douglas during all open hours, 7 days a week.          

Sunday through Thursday: 2:00-8:00PM

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 – 8:00PM

We dream of safer, simpler days at the pub with you.

After this is all over, we hope to be a business that did everything in the safest way possible for its employees and customers. Each day, Guardian continues to create a business that is proud to answer the best future hiring question, “What did you do for your staff and community during the Covid-19 pandemic?” Thank you for supporting us as we made hard decisions and felt all the support needed to show up every day for our community.

We believe that we have at least four weeks of no-dining left…at least. People not in town and friends from afar have asked, “What can I do to help?”

Shop online for merchandise and gift cards, donate to our staff fund, and if you’re in town, please call us and place orders. We can deliver to your house hands and contact free. We can keep more distance and still get well-made, clean, and safe food and beer to you and your families.

Thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts. We look forward to a day where we can thank you properly and safely with a hug and a pint.

We’re so proud to be members of our West Michigan community, where we have the best Beer Family.

~ Kim & Team Guardian

About the author

ART + BEER = INKYBEER
Inky Beer was born out of the desire to make conscious connections between beer and art (mostly graffiti and tattoos) in our travels. Join Dr. B and Kim as we embark on our new adventure, meeting new people and cataloging their ink and love of beverages for your enjoyment.
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