Brewery owner Bo Hicks “just ready for the end of (COVID)”
It would take something drastic to bring Bo Hicks down, like a pandemic. The gregarious salt-and-pepper-bearded brewmaster wakes up at dawn, travels several miles through Tuscaloosa, then spends hours brewing beer, before most of us wake up. They say you can’t keep a good man, but COVID-19 gave it a try.
“I try to focus on the positive, but I’m a person,” said Hicks, 41. “There were some scary times for both the health of some of our former regulars and my staff, trying to make sure they were taken care of.”
The Druid City Brewing Company co-owner said he felt crazy at first when everything was so new and difficult to navigate. The confusion of PPP loans and other challenges that small businesses like its face have tested the spectrum of emotions.
“There was a lot of fear and a lot of anger,” he said. “I’ve always tried to bring it back to the old saying, ‘You can only control what you can control.’ Try to make the most of it.
For the brewery, which he opened with Elliott Roberts in 2012, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time. They signed a lease last February to move into a larger space after announcing last December their intention to merge with Huntsville’s Straight to Ale. But those plans changed when COVID hit, forcing the brewery to switch to a take-out format and serve customers on their patio, stripping them of their personal touch.
“I’m just ready for this to end,” he said. “It has changed so many things, even in the way we interact with our customers. We were kind of a tight-knit group. We were used to more hugs and high-fives. Now you must have some distance between you.
Hicks doesn’t think those hugs or slaps are a thing of the past.
“I think people are social creatures,” he said. “I think we’re going to start hugging and kissing again, helping each other.”
Druid City remains involved in supporting live music and other community projects, hoping to turn the pandemic as positively as possible and hoping that the rollout of the vaccination continues, repressed clients will emerge and will revive the nuances of the Roaring Twenties.
“I feel more optimistic than I have been in a long time,” he said. “I’m always going to keep my head down, keep ripping and try to do good.”
This is part of a series of stories through AL.com to reflect on the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic reaching Alabama. Every day until March 13, we will raise the voices of those affected.