Large liquor distributors are making substantial cash donations to help those in the bar and restaurant industry during the COVID-19 outbreak, but that’s not an option for the smaller Una Vida Tequila.
Two years ago, Wichitan Bryce Lob started the business with his St. Louis business partner, Zach Conley, and two investors who also live there.
They make their tequila in Mexico and are licensed to sell in Missouri, Kansas and Texas.
“Eighty percent of our business is done in bars and restaurants,” Lob said.
“Zach and I had to kind of think about what we could do to help,” he said. “If there’s one thing we have, it’s tequila.”
They decided to offer free bottles of tequila to out-of-work bartenders as a way to support those who support their brand.
St. Louis bars and restaurants closed before ones in Kansas, so that’s where they started.
“We just kind of dubbed ourselves these quarantine tequila fairies,” Lob said. The idea is, “no pun intended, that I’m just trying to lift spirits.”
Now he, Conley and their one other employee hand deliver the bottles in St. Louis, Wichita and Kansas City every day.
“We’re up to like 1,000 right now,” Lob said.
And the calls keep coming.
They’re using social media to get the word out. Lob says they also tell bar managers what they’re doing, and then the managers tell employees.
“It’s kind of a spider web effect.”
Some don’t accept the tequila offer but still show their appreciation.
“I’ve had a couple people tear up or try to pay me,” Lob said.
He said they’re looking at other ways to help, such as turning over their Instagram live feed to bartenders who can demonstrate cocktail recipes and then get virtual tips
“We’re just trying to help get money in their pockets.”
Una Vida is still making sales through liquor stores. With a low overhead, Lob said the company can afford to be generous right now.
Though the tequila bottles are for bar and restaurant industry workers only, Lob said he wants everyone to “stay safe, stay home, make some cocktails.”
He said it’s also a great time to help people, such as the many new ones he’s meeting.