ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Brewing is getting ready to move from its longtime home in Orlando’s SoDo neighborhood to a new, as of yet undetermined location, but the organic brewery needs help to make it happen.
The current location of Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave., is being bought up by Orlando Health. That deal is closing on July 5, according to John Cheek, the owner of the brewery.
“All the money that we had been saving to move (we) ended up using to stay alive,” Cheek said.
Cheek had been planning to move the operations of Orlando Brewing for about three years, but when the pandemic hit, those plans were waylaid and the company’s savings were pushed toward staying afloat.
“This (the pandemic) has been catastrophic from our standpoint,” he said.
Cheek explained that the majority of his product went to area theme parks, hotels, resorts and restaurants. When the pandemic hit, most of that business dried up.
“When COVID hit we were gearing up for the spring — the start of a big season — so every single tank we had was full,” Cheek said. “So it wasn’t like we could do any extra brewing because we had no tanks to put it in. Nobody was buying beer, so we couldn’t empty the tank. So we were just kind of stuck and that’s really had the biggest impact on us.”
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Despite that, the company has survived and has once again become sustainable.
“We are at the point now where we can pay our bills — you know, not having to dip into savings,” Cheek said.
However, he added that will still likely be another year before the business has fully recovered.
Cheek is now focusing on moving the business out of its current location. He hopes to use the month of June to move all of the operations to a new home base for the brewery.
Cheek has not yet settled on a location, but he said there are three possibilities, all of which are in Orange County. In order to facilitate that move, Orlando Brewing now has a GoFundMe campaign set up, seeking $200,000.
That money will go toward “taking the equipment, disconnecting and reconnecting it at the new space,” Cheek said.
As of this writing, the campaign has raised $2,100, though the campaign only started three days ago.
With the move, Cheek hopes to have more to offer customers, including plans to serve food and the brewery may be able to expand its bar to include liquor.
Cheek said that people who cannot help financially can still support the brewery.
“Our whole brewery was built upon volunteerism,” Cheek said. “We’ve had all kinds of people helping to either paint things — paint walls and floors — clean things, and so we’re kind of built upon that model. One of the things that I’ve always told people is that, ‘Yeah, we don’t have a whole lot of money, but we got a whole lot of beer. And it’s good beer. Darn good.”
You can find the online fundraiser by clicking here.