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Long Road Distillers lays off 50 but hopes to sell bottles for take out

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Posted at 10:58 AM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 11:02:53-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — “It’s an honor to employ 50 employees,” says Kyle VanStrien, but Long Road Distillers is a small business, and its three locations are now closed due to what he called “an evolving situation” with the coronavirus.

VanStrien is co-owner of three locations of Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Boyne City, along with Jon O’Connor, who serves on the Grand Rapids City Commission.

The decision to lay off 50 workers was a tough one, VanStrien admits, even though he and O’Connor “saw this on the horizon” as long as four weeks ago. Business in the week before St. Patrick’s Day was down 40 percent, and that was before Gov. Whitmer’s order that restaurants and bars to close their dining rooms and other common spaces.

As for the 50 laid off employees, there’s hope they will qualify for help like unemployment benefits, but he just doesn’t know for sure.

Part of this evolving situation VanStrien describes is the possibility that customers may be able to get bottles of Long Road products through take out, including possibly other cocktail ingredients. That could happen as early as this Friday, Mar. 20. Food takeout, however, is not likely.