It’s hard to believe looking back now that at this time last year we were preparing to open for our first ever evening drinks service, it’s hard to believe that we continued to work our full-time jobs throughout (bizarrely, including opening day!), and it’s certainly hard to believe everything that has happened since the 29th November 2019; as the three of us nervously prepared to pour our first ever pints, and now, as we sit here in our empty bar-turned-off-license.
Undoubtedly there has been a lot to learn; of course plenty about the wonderful world of beer and the day to day running of a bar, but also about hard work, people, balance, each other, and perhaps most of all having the energy to remain positive whilst constantly needing to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape that has been 2020.
The three of us as individuals have quickly had to learn to move past being just good friends, becoming colleagues and business partners – a very different relationship – and I am delighted to say that, despite everything, that has probably been our greatest achievement. I say this because even though we have naturally had plenty of, shall we say, “heated disagreements”, in the more stressful moments; more importantly we have lived, loved, and laughed through every adverse minute of it all.
Achieving something, anything at all, against the backdrop of this shitty year is an amazing feeling, doing so with your best mates whilst having a laugh and drink along the way is just that little bit better.
It’s tricky to remember what our lives used to be like, working more or less 8am until midnight for the best part of 18 months certainly took its toll; I can not recommend working a full time job to which you are dedicated, whilst also simultaneously spinning the plates of trying to open and run your first boozer. Evidently something had to give, and it was probably going to be us.
So in February this year we were lucky enough to begin to grow our wonderful little team, starting with Emily, shortly followed by Nicky, Matt, and most recently Lizzie. Sadly, as the year took a turn for the worst, we had to close the doors and say goodbye to visitors we were now proud to call friends, team members had to be furloughed, and instead we hurriedly launched our website offering a same-day, local delivery service basically overnight. Fan-tastic.
Lockdown 1.0 really does just seem like a blur now, but my god it was chaos – a complete rollercoaster of emotions. On 20th March, we rang the bell for the last time and sat with a pint of Guinness by the window, stared out onto an eerily quiet Abbeydale Rd and wondered what on earth would happen next. Was this it for us? How could something we’d worked so SO hard for could be so cruelly taken away from us so soon – through no fault of our own. So it was in with the canning machine (all the way from Sweden), and the rest, as they say, is history!
Within days, our entire business had been flipped on it’s head – the bar was transformed into a warehouse, full of pallets, crates & boxes of beer stacked up to the ceiling and within days we were out delivering fresh draught beers, wines, bottles & cans to HUNDREDS of homes every single week. If you stepped into the bar on one of those weekends back in April and May you’d have wondered what on earth was going on – organised chaos would probably be the kindest way of putting it.
Obviously, these were tough times for everyone, so we made a conscious decision to try our best to entertain & keep the spirits up in the little ways that we could- we delivered a year’s worth of free beer to someone’s house, poked fun at Dominic Cummings and ran our weekly Sunday service – surprising a handful of key workers on their doorsteps with beery care packages to brighten up the end of a tough week.
It’s funny how things turn out, though, because as matters beyond our control pushed us physically away from each other, it brought us closer to the community that we are privileged to be a small part of. Serving the good folk of Sheffield on their doorsteps quickly became the new norm, getting to know people by name (as opposed to their usual drinks order) has been lovely, as well as building relationships that will, I’m sure, last for years to come.
Before we knew it, serving on the doorstep altered (seemingly as quickly as it arrived) to serving those same good folk at the table; the bar was open again, the sun was shining, and summer out on our new terrace seemed to be in full swing. Good god it felt good to be back, particularly considering by the 4th July, the days we could open versus days we were forced to remain closed stood at 111 vs 113! August bank holiday came and went, and we even managed a spectacular Oktoberfest event in September, before the “new normal” we had all become accustomed too, became the “old new normal”, and we were plunged bank into our current situation, only this time without the weather on our side; it’s been dark, wet, cold, miserable, and foggy. Delivering beer from the boot of your car is far easier on a beautiful summer evening, as opposed to a dark, November night, that’s for sure!
It’s not been easy, in fact it’s been bloody hard work, but we’ve been very lucky to be have a tonne of support throughout the last 18 months, be it from friends (new and old – you know who you are!), family (let’s be honest, we’d be nothing without ya!), and very, very understanding partners (patience of bloody saints!), or from the local community and visitors to the bar, many of whom we are now lucky to call friends and who we couldn’t now imagine our lives without. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for believing in us, and for supporting us. It has meant the world, and often kept us sane!
Without your continued support, there would be no Two Thirds Beer Co, and for that, we’ll be forever grateful.
So, in the face of it all, it feels as though we couldn’t have hoped for a much better start to life for Two Thirds Beer Co… all things considered (I was trying extremely hard to avoid using the “buzzword” of the last few weeks, but there it is again, and I suppose after all this is a look back and consideration of all said “things”, so it’s justifiable once more), and we look forward to next year, full of hope that it is one filled with celebrations that we have unfortunately had to put on ice for now. We already have quite a few exciting plans for next year, and hopefully we can share a little more with you about them in the not too distant future.
Instead, today, we’ll sit together after we close this evening with a glass of fizz and a slice of cake, and have a good laugh looking back through all the pictures from this last year (feel free to join us and enjoy the photos below, fizz and cake optional but recommended). Proud of what we’ve achieved, and excited for what is yet to come.