Local brewery moving forward with business during COVID-19

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for local businesses across the nation. In the Tri-Cities, businesses have altered their hours, adjusted daily operations, and even cut back on staff in order to keep in business. However, for businesses just trying to get their start, it’s an entirely different story. 

Little Animals Brewery in Downtown Johnson City has been a project in the works for the past three years. The owners purchased space at the corner of East Main Street and Colonial Way back in 2017. They’ve been working on the space ever since by conducting repairs and doing the necessary work needed to open their brewery.

Earlier this year, April 3rd was set as the grand opening date. Co-Owner and Head Brewer of Little Animals Brewery, Christopher Cates, said he was keeping up with the latest developments of the Coronavirus and realized early on that the April 3rd date they talked about would not become a reality. 

“I just saw it coming and I remember telling my wife, that opening date is not going to happen,” said Cates.

The original plan for the opening was a focus on taproom sales, but with the inability to sell beers in-person in their taproom, they had to think of another way to make money. Similar businesses in the area resorted to packaging and selling their brews, but since Little Animals was just getting started, they did not have the resources to package and sell their beers.

Thankfully, the community came through in support of the new business and purchased over $900 worth of gift cards. Cates said the money, along with a donation of empty bottles from a neighboring business has made bottling and selling their beers during this time a reality.

They plan to start selling their beers in the next few weeks. Cates said they will have 8 original brews on tap at a time, and will gradually change up the brews to provide patrons with something new and exciting each time they visit.

He said while this situation is less than ideal, he’s incredibly thankful for the community’s support as well as the support of surrounding downtown businesses. 

“If we had been any sooner in our process, it probably would have kept us from opening up entirely. I think we were right in this sweet spot where it was still possible,” said Cates. 

If you’re interested in supporting Little Animals Brewery by purchasing a gift card or reading more into their mission, check out their website here.

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