DEBRIEF: Young business in Seneca Falls learns how to thrive during pandemic (podcast)

Brad and Anna Luisi-Ellis started the Fall Street Brewing journey during the summer of 2018. By October of 2019 they opened their Fall Street location, serving as the kind of anchor downtown Seneca Falls needed.

After a strong first few months, the duo took the leap and began operating as a cafe serving craft beer, kombucha, cider, coffee, and even lunch. Just a couple months after the Coronavirus Pandemic hit Upstate New York. Many businesses were forced to shut down or drastically modify operation — and eight months later restrictions are still in place.

“I remember the weekend,” Brad said, recounting the week that it seemed to become clear a shutdown was coming. “We really felt like things were going to close down. And I remember it was really painfully slow. And you know, there wasn’t a whole lot of people downtown — it was kind of like a ghost town. There was a sharp decline. It was noticeable.”

Brad says that what made it so noticeable was that January and February were strong months. “So that weekend hit and we’re like ‘Yeah, things are probably going to close down’,” he recalled. “And sure enough, it did.”

Initially they couldn’t have customers in their Fall Street storefront — so Brad and Anna decided that closing for a week to regroup and come up with a plan would be a smart idea. There was a caveat in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate on restaurants — which was that anyone that was in manufacturing could continue operation. That spared most breweries, including Fall Street.

By the time customers were allowed to return — the weather was improving. And in a lot of ways, the late-spring and summer beat expectations. “We always say that it exceeded our expectations,” Brad continued. “We’re doing the report at the end of the week and getting the deposits ready, and we just sit back and we’re like ‘Wow’, just very, very grateful for the support that’s allowed us to blow it out of the water.”

Tourism spots around the region enjoyed better-than-expected summer months. Even with a state mandate on traveling into New York — regional travel was huge. “We always chat up our customers when they come in, and we focused on making sure we stayed compliant — and safe for everyone’s benefit,” Brad added. “We did outdoor seating, different menu items, focused on ‘to-go’, and most people were great about it all.”

Listen to our full-conversation with Brad Ellis about Fall Street Brewing in the audio player above.


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