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Moeder Lambic and Au Daringman: profiles in survival

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Moeder Lambic and Au Daringman: profiles of two bars doing what they can to survive the lockdown. 

Stay safe everyone and follow the rules. It is the best way to save ourselves, our families and the brewers and bars we love. That said, the Beer Idiots take a look at what two bars in Brussels are doing to save themselves from shutdown during the lockdown.

Craft brewers and bars have a unique product to sell, and a dedicated fan base. For the craft bar owners this uniqueness is keeping them alive during the lockdowns. They have innovated in the ways of getting their beers to their fans, including opening up shop on the premises and even online ordering.

As one craft bar owner told me, “We offer both an atmosphere and a unique product.” While the atmosphere is on hold for now, they are depending on still selling that unique product until they can open their doors again.

The pain is mainly being felt by the regular bars and we want these favourites to stay alive as well, but their difficulty rests in the fact that no one is going to order a take-away Stella or even a Trappist brew when they can get these for less at a local supermarket.

However, even so some are indicating that they are in real danger of going under. The openness of Jean Hummler of Moeder Lambic Original and Moeder Lambic Fontainas highlights the kind of conditions bars are facing in Brussels. Hummler has been very open on social media and on a crowdfunding page about the current situation of the two bars.

He and partners took over Moeder Lambic Original in 2006 and opened Moeder Lambic Fontainas in 2009. He figures Moeder Fontainas, popular with locals and tourists alike, lost a quarter of its business due to renovations in front of the bar from November 2019 to March 2020. The two bars employ about 25 people, who are currently covered by unemployment coverage.

During the first lockdown the bar lost €20,000 in beers and food on first day and received €8,000 in state aid. A €50,000 bank loan also helped out. But still Moeder Fontainas’ business was down 75% over the three months window of opening in the summer while Original was down 20%.

The second and ongoing lockdown in October meant the bars are paying €9,000 a month in rent, interest and security payments, adding up to about €54,000 until March 2021, when it is expected, but not certain, that the lockdown will ease, though it still looks unlikely. 

Additionally there are a total of €76,000 coming due for holiday pay for employees. There is a refund of €15,000 due for those who bought tickets for the Quintessence tasting, and payments on the loan.
 
Cutting costs and raising money has been his focus. Last year, Hummler auctioned some of the 4,000 bottles the bars hold, 90% of which are from Cantillon. About 300 bottles are considered ‘rare’. So far he has received about €14,000 in state aid.
 
In total the losses amount to €154,000. Through GoFundMe Hummler and partners hope to raise €50,000. So far about €26,000 has been raised from supporters. And there are some great supporters. Someone has contributed €2,500, another €750. It’s heartening to see, and we hope (and believe) that the bars can hold on.
 
En Stoemelings is also to be commended for supporting the two bars through its home delivery service.
 
Au Daringman on the ropes
 

Au Daringman is another Brussels institution in the centre of Brussels that’s has been very popular local spot for the past 20 years. It is one of the coziest bars in town: 10 sq. m. of fun. The owners had resorted to raising money by selling cloth bags. Now it is crowdfunding to stay alive.

“Being forced to stop because of the virus would mean a premature death of the cafe for which no one is ready, neither the clientele, nor us as the bar crew,” they say. “However, in order to continue, the rent must be paid to InBev. However, given that InBev shows little solidarity with regard to the hospitality industry, we would like to appeal to yours. Because we want to continue so badly ..!”

You can help Au Daringman by making a free contribution. Or you can choose a rewards offered by regulars and Brussels organisations in the area.

The proceeds of the campaign will go entirely to the café (minus the transaction costs). The rewards are being financed by Growfunding vzw, with the support of the Brussels-Capital Region.

The Beer Idiots highlights these social organisations as it is great that everyone is supporting each other:

  • ArtiZan is the creative studio and pastry kitchen of Atelier Groot Eiland, an organization in the social economy. The ArtiZan team consists of people in employment care.
  • Gazelles de Bruxelles strengthens adults from disadvantaged groups through jogging and creates encounters.
  • Nobody is Illegal stands up for the interests of people without the correct papers.
  • Orybany is an ethical and sustainable store in the center of Brussels that brings together a community of local artisans and designers.
  • Tournevie is a shared library for tools for DIY, repair or renovation. This is the 21st century economy: reducing the mountain of waste, stimulating repair and offering an alternative to the throwaway culture.

You can contribute to Au Daringman at Growfunding.

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