#8: Ontario-based businesses and the innovation born as a result of COVID-19
Drive up Leslie Street in Newmarket, Ont., and you’ll come across Market Brewing Company, a popular craft brewer and premiere event space in York Region. It’s a really cool place, where there’s at least 10 delicious beers on tap whenever you visit, and events going on in the Taproom most days. Their beers are available at the Beer Store, LCBO and grocery stores and bars, but visiting the heart of the business is definitely an experience for locals and those who travel for a pint. “We make a beer for everyone. The Taproom hosts weekly trivia nights, BINGO and live music, on top of being used for fundraisers, weddings, local vendor markets, comedy nights and private events,” Bill Gianopoulos, the Taproom and events manager; Josh Uttley, head brewer; and Piers Simpkin, general manager, tell us. “It’s also active in the community and supports as many local businesses as possible, including bringing in food trucks a few times a week. It’s a place to unwind and have fun while keeping safe in these times.”
Before March 2020, the brewery was busy making beers, and the event hosting portion of their business was full of everything from goat yoga and euchre tournaments to dog-friendly events and weddings.
Before March 2020, the brewery was busy making beers, and the event hosting portion of their business was full of everything from goat yoga and euchre tournaments to dog-friendly events and weddings. “It was projecting to be quite the year with a fantastic staff to boot,” the team says. Once the pandemic hit, it brought Gianopoulos, Uttley and Simpkin plenty of unknowns, but the decision to make adjustments at the brewery was made almost immediately. “It was a difficult transition, as it was full-time work with a skeleton staff. We began by creating an online store to allow our guests to come pick up beer for curbside pickup and, also, the more popular option, which was free local delivery right to customers’ doorsteps,” they explain. “It gave us an opportunity to get our beer out safely to those not comfortable leaving the house.” Their second change was a big one — they decided to make, bottle and sell hand sanitizer using the World Health Organization’s directions. “We created an odourless, 80-percent alcohol sanitizer in a variety of sizes which not only helped us, but it helped our friends and local businesses get going once again. Our sanitizer was recently commended by the province of Ontario with a visit from Christine Elliott, our Minister of Health.” (See photo, left.)
In the months since COVID-19 hit, the crew at Market Brewing have continued to learn from their pivot. “We all wear a different hat every day. Everyone is grinding away at the brewery and we had to make sure we kept making great products and having fun nights by following all the rules and restrictions mandated by the government,” they explain. Business has looked different since making the changes, and the team is well aware that Ontario is not through the pandemic yet. Their motto is one every business should embrace: “We’ll figure it out.”