Growler sales give popular pizza chain a big boost

SEATTLE -- Washington's longtime pizza chain Zeeks Pizza says sales from its draft beers is helping them stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

The restaurant's president, Dan Black, says the business lost 60 percent of revenue overnight because it lost its dining rooms, bar business and catering business. Turning to takeout and delivery for its pizza and packaged beer was a no-brainer.

"Our beer delivery business, we launched it a couple years ago and it's been popular for a while. Definitely a cool part of our business," said Black.

But a big boost came from expanding the service to now include beer from its taps. In March, Washington state temporarily relaxed its alcohol laws, allowing curbside pickup and delivery of draft beer, wine and mixed drinks.

"Before coronavirus hit, we would sell 100-150 growlers a week. Seven-10 days into coronavirus, we're delivering 1,500 growlers a week, and the system ran the Northwest out of growlers for a while," said Black.

Zeeks, which only carries Pacific Northwest beers on tap, says the loosened restrictions not only support local breweries, it also allowed the chain to bring back former servers that were laid off to work at its call centers.

Zeeks isn't calling this a victory by any means, more like survival.

"If you're a restaurant right now, being alive is a win, so we are happy we have success here, but also want to be cognizant of other restaurants hurting right now," said Black.