From Beer To Bruschetta

Never doubt the power of a kitchen
story and photos by Dave walters

Zephyrhills Brewing Company owner Steve Bahorski proudly stands behind the bar his brewery after bringing his business back from the COVID-19 crisis.

When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered bars to close in March, Zephyrhills Brewing Company owner Steve Bahorski saw the future of his recently purchased brewery in doubt.

Since his business did not serve food, the closure days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. In late May, he received a temporary reprieve when he was able to incorporate a food truck outside his business to allow him to re-open the doors. It was a couple of weeks when the
government shut down that option.

Four attempts at Paycheck Protection Program loans failed and Bahorski was questioning whether ZBC was going to be another victim of COVID-19. He purchased the brewery last July from founders Terry and Robert Hilferding before breweries, bars and businesses ever heard of COVID-19.

““When we got shut down again, this was going to get ugly,” Bahorski said. “I had to let go of my employees. I couldn’t afford to pay them anymore.”

A change in his business model with construction of a kitchen, a successful
fifth application for the PPP loan and the support of the community salvaged the brewery.

“The loan was a huge lifeline for us,” Bahorski said “I couldn’t use it to put
in the kitchen, but it helped me pay my employees. If I did not get the PPP loan and the kitchen wasn’t an option, I had about a month left before I had to pack it in.”

As of three weeks ago, dinner is served at the Zephyrhills Brewing Company. While the brewery is only allowed to accommodate people at 50 percent capacity, the doors are open and the customers are bellying up to the bar for the beer and meal.

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