Craft in the Time of COVID

The craft community prevails through the relationships they’ve forged with each other and their loyal fans, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. #craftstrong

The Craft community is defined by the people who create it – the makers, the bartenders, and the service staff. What measures are being taken to care for these folks in the midst of widespread closures? 

COVID-19 is hitting the craft community hard—a Brewer’s Association survey shows that 99% of breweries are impacted by the crisis. Despite the blow, many businesses are tapping into the connections they’ve forged with guests and each other to persevere amongst shifting business models. The strength of this community is inspirational and if there’s one take away from this article, let that be it. 

We collected some inspiring stories of the craft community supporting each other, resources for craft workers who need assistance, and options for craft enthusiasts to support their local businesses.

*None of this constitutes legal advice. Please be sure to check your state and local guidelines before implementing any of these procedures.*


Stories of #CraftStrong

Prioritizing Employees

Businesses with the ability to do so are keeping their staff on payroll while instituting necessary closures. Delivery and to-go sales allow businesses to continue giving their staff hours.

Craft in the time of COVID: New Belgium

Craft in the Time of COVID: Stone Cloud Brewing

Craft Sponsored  COVID Relief Funds

Other businesses have set up Employee Relief Funds to collect money specifically dedicated to supporting their staff. For example, The Yard on Mass is donating 100% of the proceeds of their Orange Blossom Pilsner back to their staff, Rocket Republic is donating 50% of all merchandise sales into their employee fund, and North Country is donating 50% of proceeds of a specially brewed beer to fellow hospitality workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Craft in the Time of COVID: Rocket Republic

Donating Time

For the folks who can swing it, like the highschoolers in the Frolic community, employees are donating their hours to co-workers who rely on their income.

Craft in the Time of COVID: Frolic Brewing

Pay What You Can

Another common approach is the pay-what-you-can model: meals have a suggested cost, but regardless of how much a customer is able to pay, they directly contribute to a fund for employees; folks who are without work receive a community-supported meal. Arcana, in Boulder, CO, is employing this model and all profit, including gratuity, is funneling directly into their employee support fund.

Craft in the Time of COVID: Arcana

Lay Offs

The decision to temporarily lay-off or furlough employees is never easy. Many businesses are agonizing over whether to do so at this very moment. Saying “see you soon” to your valued craft-family is painful, but remember that doing so allows them to file for unemployment. Unemployment funds can help to keep them afloat now and hopefully enables the business to bring them back when doors open back up.  Businesses like The Rayback Collective and Mountain Sun Pub are finding creative ways to fundraise for their staff. 

Craft in the Time of COVID: The Rayback

Resources for Craft Employees

Of course, we recognize that not all businesses can afford to take the above measures. For bartenders, servers, and other craft folks whose income is depleted or who have been let go, we feel for you. Here are some resources to help get you through this time: 

Unemployment Options: Workers who have been laid off or furloughed are eligible for unemployment. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government has opened up options for states to amend their laws to benefit workers affected by the crisis. 

State Government Resources: 

    • Many states have government-funded sites to help connect workers with their future employers. These sites are typically hosted through the state labor department websites and contain databases where workers can search for employers that are hiring. 

    • NPR reports that at least nine states, including Colorado, Washington, and New York opened health care enrollment as an emergency measure for laid off workers.

Essential Services: Essential services like grocery and liquor stores are seeking emergency delivery personnel. Check in with your local grocery or liquor store for employment options. 

Emergency Assistance for the Craft Industry: 

    • The United States Bartenders Guild National Charity Foundation has a long-existing program that provides emergency financial assistance for bar and restaurant employees called the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. This program provides financial grants for bar and restaurant workers who experience a sudden emergency or hardship. Any bartender or server experiencing a loss of work due to COVID-19 is eligible, even if they’re not members of the USBG. 

    • The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation is a non-profit that advocates for restaurant workers.  All funds raised by the foundation during the COVID-19 crisis will be allocated to relief efforts. The RWCF has a direct relief assistance program through which restaurant workers and owners can apply for a financial grant.

National Government Assistance: The United States Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance loans. All small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are eligible to apply for these low-interest loans.

Thanks, Mark Zuck: Facebook for Business has established a Small Business Grant Program to help small businesses get through the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ll be offering up to $100M in grants to small businesses impacted by the crisis. 

Resources for Craft Enthusiasts

If you’re a craft enthusiast seeking ways to help out your friends and businesses in the service industry, these resources are for you: 

Donate to relief funds:

    • USBG Emergency Assistance. Donations to the USBG Emergency Assistance program and COVID-19 response fund directly helps bartenders and servers who have lost work at this time.

    • One Fair Wage. One Fair Wage is a non-profit NGO campaigning to end subminimum wages for restaurant and tipped workers. OFW set up an emergency fund to help tipped workers who are out of work during the coronavirus crisis. 

    • Restaurant Workers Community Foundation. The RWCF set up a COVID-19 crisis relief fund, which will directly help individual restaurant workers, non-profit organizations that help restaurant workers in crisis, and fund loans to help independent restaurants get back on their feet. 

Find a new way to enjoy craft!

    • Go curbside! Take advantage of curbside pickups and online ordering from your local breweries and restaurants. created an ongoing list of breweries nationwide that currently offer alternative enjoyment options, including curbside pickup, online ordering, and delivery.

    • Feed two birds with one seed. Support local businesses and the healthcare professionals who are on the frontlines of the crisis by treating them to coffee, treats, and meals.

    • The next generation. Some businesses are taking donations to give away meals to kids who normally depend on school lunches. Call breweries or restaurants in your area to see if they’re doing a similar program – this helps the business and local kids in need! 


In this weird, unprecedented time we’re all feeling a bit helpless. Thankfully, the world is filled with good people who are working night and day to give you the resources you need to take control and help yourself and your beloved community.

Do you have other resources not listed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get them added to the post!

Enjoy reading fine print? Great! Keep going:

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Make sure to reference your state law and licensing.Your state guild is always an excellent resource.