Ybor brewery gets food license so it can reopen during pandemic

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- After five long months, Rock Brothers Brewing in Ybor City is ready to welcome the public back inside its historic location. 

The company that unites craft beer and music has worked with countless artist including 311 and Hootie & the Blowfish. But when the brewery was hit with coronavirus restrictions, they were left playing things by ear in terms of how they will keep their business afloat. 

“We didn’t know if it was going to be a few weeks or a few months and we had to pivot every single time,” said Rock Brothers Brewing manager Kevin Crocker. “Like everyone else in this industry, we were unsure as to where we were going to go with things. Our main concern was to take care of our staff and to make sure that they were okay.” 

Scooby Olivier, the director of spirits and education at Rock Brothers, said their once bustling brewery turned to to-go sales to generate revenue.  

“We did utilize the fact that we could make to-go sales on the weekend,” said Olivier. “So, we would have you email us, tell us what you were looking for on our cocktail menu and we would prepackage those.” 

The latest COVID restrictions prohibit on-site consumption of alcohol at breweries unless the businesses has a food truck or restaurant associated with it. Crocker says in order to stay relevant, Rock Brothers Brewing had to change their business model. 

“As things developed over time, the powers that be dictated that we had to get a food license to stay relevant,” Crocker said. “That’s what we did and we built out a complete kitchen area and we have a food program now.”

Rock Brothers Brewing officially reopened last Thursday. Now, small bites such as paninis, beer cheese dip and chicken salad can be found on the establishment’s menu.  

“Our number one concern was being compliant with the safety procedures, which we have everything in place that went well and it was well received by the public,” said Crocker.  

 
Even with the added food service, Olivier tells WFLA.com the business is still being greatly impacted due to other Ybor businesses shutting down. He hopes other businesses will follow their lead and establish safety procedures in an effort to drive business back to Ybor.  

“We’re just looking forward to having people back and having people back in the Ybor. Like having them come back and visit not just us but our other companies that are around us in our community,” said Olivier. “I think a lot of people have started reopening and we’re hoping that more will do so and follow suit, kind of take the same actions that we are by putting the guest’s priorities and guest safety first.” 

The 7-year-old business plans to begin on-site brewing at their Ybor location in the coming months. You can learn more about Rock Brothers Brewing’s hours of operation on their website.

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