Rising to the Challenge


Jim Miller

, Food & Drink

Led by beer companies, many in the hospitality industry have given back to the community—providing an example for the rest of us


Last month, Dogfish Head announced that it had partnered with the State of Delaware to produce much-needed hand sanitizer for the government, with 100 percent of the profits going to a fund to support Delawareans affected by COVID-19.

“I never thought Dogfish Head would be in the sanitizer business,” said founder Sam Calagione. “But this is a time of crisis, and necessity is the mother of invention.”

The news could not have come at a better time. With the nation—and the world—caught off guard, and headlines spelling bad news left and right, here was a local story that shined a light on the type of action we need to take in the fight against this virus.

In the Out & About offices, the news was greatly appreciated, but it didn’t take us by total surprise. Dogfish has built its worldwide reputation on being innovative. Besides, over the 32 years O&A has been around, we’ve seen beer companies step up during moments of crisis, time and time again.

Since the magazine’s debut in 1988, Anheuser-Busch has provided more than 80 million cans of water to U.S. communities hit by natural disasters.

Likewise, in the past few years, Molson Coors Beverage Co. sent more than 550,000 cans into hurricane-ravaged areas in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Last month, the company pledged $1 million to the United States Bartenders’ Guild, which will go to bartenders and service industry professionals out of work.

Besides the response to crisis, brewers—along with producers of wine and spiritss—have been generous to local non-profits. The in-kind donations these companies make to fundraising events allow charities to realize more profit on ticket sales. Note that Delaware’s three major alcohol distributors (NKS, Standard, and Breakthru) contribute to more than 750 charitable endeavors per year. That’s an average of more than two per day.

If you’ve seen a Michelob Ultra at the bar after a local 10K charity run or a Dogfish beer after a biking event, it may not have occurred to you that those beers were most likely donated.

That type of giving has been matched by the local restaurant industry. For years, Harry’s Hospitality Group led the charge with “Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation” dinner, which raised more than $1 million over 26 years.

Likewise, Two Stones Pub has been a huge champion for Meals On Wheels Delaware; Iron Hill Brewery has supported CureSearch for Children’s Cancer; and BBC Tavern and Grill has boosted the fundraising efforts of countless charities through their Guest Bartender Program.

And these are just a few examples of the many ways the hospitality industry has given back. With that industry reeling now from COVID-19 closures, perhaps the time has come for us to give back to them.

By ordering curbside take-out or delivery from your favorite restaurants, you can help keep the lights on. Buying gift cards also increases the chances of their reopening fully when this is all over, which, in turn, means more people will be back to work almost immediately.

You can also follow the efforts of the Delaware Restaurant Association, which has been assisting with programs like the Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) and pushing Congress to release more funds to support the industry.

Until last month, the Delaware restaurant and food service industry employed more than 48,000 people, making it the largest small business employer in the state. Today, employment in the industry is just a slight fraction of that number.

We are all facing a challenge unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Meeting that challenge will require us to be innovative and generous, finding and filling needs as they arise.

To survive and rebuild, we need to follow the health protocols and consider how we can be of service to each other in this time of isolation.  One place to start is by supporting the people who have served and supported us over the years.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.