On April 16, local German-themed restaurant Brews and Brats at Autumn View officially opened for the season, but for the first time in its three-year history just outside the village, it couldn’t welcome guests into its dining area.
Still, that didn’t stop owners Randy Smith and Linda Bancroft from turning this challenging situation into an opportunity for success with a new format.
Brews and Brats launched in 2017 and has since grown into a local favorite, Smith said.
“We’ve actually had a steady growth since last year, which was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “And we’re hoping to meet those numbers that we did last year.”
To achieve that goal, Smith and Bancroft started promoting their new business model early – providing takeout every day except Wednesday.
“We were only going to be open Thursday through Sunday, but there’s several places that are not open in Trumansburg yet on Mondays and Tuesday, so we decided we would open up and do like 3 to 6 on Mondays and Tuesdays and then take Wednesday off,” Smith said.
Brews and Brats’ menu also had to be adjusted, so the restaurant is currently offering bratwurst, hotdogs, German potato salad, pasta salad, OMG beans, veggie OMG beans, veggie hotdogs and sauerkraut.
Before opening, Smith and Bancroft remained positive, but there was still some initial uncertainty as to whether their efforts would pay off.
“I was just wondering if it was going to work, wondering how much local support we would end up getting, wondering if it would be worth being open,” Smith said.
So far, business has been going well for Brews and Brats, with its first sale coming just before opening on April 16. Local resident Tony Lupo had sent Smith a message that he wanted to purchase 20 $20 gift certificates for the 60 nurses and medical staff from Cayuga Medical Center who recently went to New York City to assist in the COVID-19 fight. Lupo used his entire stimulus check to buy gift certificates from three local restaurants to give to the healthcare workers.
“It was an awesome way to start the day off, for certain, and season,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing excellent since.”
Smith said that Brews and Brats helps to provide a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times.
“We’ve got a place for people where they can at least get out,” Smith said. “They can come out and enjoy the sunshine get out and then be able to come in and pick up different foods that they haven’t had. Because we have outdoor seating, we’re hoping that in a very short time, they’ll be able to come up and be able to sit out there in the beer garden and enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company.”
And when customers do come in for takeout, they get to see the changes to Brews and Brats’ interior.
“We just added some new decor not even a month ago with a bunch of antique beer cans that adorn the walls up here,” Smith said. “I am very thankful that we had a place that I could get out of the house and come and work and do the things that we needed to do.”
While Smith is grateful for the community support, he misses being able to have a packed house.
“It’s obviously different because we can’t have people inside,” Smith said. “We can’t give the one-on-one local owner-to-customer service. We really engage here with our customers. We can’t tell you how many people come in here say, ‘Randy, we feel like we just walked into your house. We feel like we just walked into your kitchen and sat down in your kitchen table.’ … We miss being able to chat with people like that.”
And going forward, Smith, like many others in the area right now, is uncertain about what the future will bring.
“Our concerns going forward are just like everybody else’s – When are things going to open back up? And when are we going to be able to implement the full schedule and get back into having bands and whatnot here?” Smith said.Smith said that at this point, he’s staying positive that he and the rest of the community will get through this crisis together.
“All we can do is hope and pray at this point that it’ll keep going well, so I seriously think that once things are opened up, I see things going back to more of a normal than what most people do,” Smith said. “I’m just an optimist.”
Brews and Brats is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. Call 607-241-8160 for takeout and visit its Facebook page for more information.
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