Owners of San Antonio food and beverage businesses say what they learned during a tough 2021

click to enlarge From left: Jim Hansen, Donovan Thomson, Jennifer Beckmann and Daniel Trevino. - FACEBOOK / SECOND PITCH BEER CO., COURTESY / DONOVAN THOMSON, COURTESY / JENNIFER BECKMANN, INSTAGRAM / BOX STREET SOCIAL
Facebook / Second Pitch Beer Co., Courtesy / Donovan Thomson, Courtesy / Jennifer Beckmann, Instagram / Box Street Social
From left: Jim Hansen, Donovan Thomson, Jennifer Beckmann and Daniel Trevino.
With the close of a turbulent year, San Antonio’s food community has ridden out unprecedented ups and downs.

Beyond the challenge of safely serving diners during the COVID-19 pandemic, they grappled with supply chain issues, labor shortages and the usual curveballs of running a customer-facing business. But the Alamo City is nothing if not resilient.

We checked in with four local food and beverage business owners to ask them about the lessons they learned over 2021 — and what keeps them hopeful going into the new year.

Jim Hansen
Owner, Second Pitch Beer Company

On lessons: “The biggest lesson from the year is to be as authentic as possible. People with limited time, effort and money will only spend those things on an authentic experience, and we strive to provide that every day and with every pint of our beer. Second is to trust and invest in our people, as they are the lifeblood of our company and a huge reason we are doing as well as we are. Finally, I think we learned how best to work with other locals and small business. We continue to use Community Cultures Yeast Labs as our yeast provider and we started setting up several small vendor and makers markets, so people can have an opportunity to shop extremely local.”

On hopes: “I am most hopeful about a return to semi-normal with folks drinking and eating out. We are also hopeful and excited about our cans going into H-E-B. We realized earlier on we need to provide our beer in a way people are consuming it, and that means moving up our plans to go in cans by a couple of years.”

Donovan Thomson
Co-Owner Big Hops New Braunfels; founder SATXRated blog

On lessons: “The most important lesson I learned was the extent to which we need to support our small businesses. I’ve always tried to do that by leveraging the following SATXRated has, but now that I’m a small business owner, I’m doing everything I can think of to further support other small, locally owned businesses in my community. So many in the San Antonio community had to close over the last year through no fault of their own, and I’ve come to realize that every guest counts. Every person who supports small business is vital to that company’s survival, and, in the long run, the way that community thrives.”

On hopes: “Of course, I hope we finally make it through this pandemic and that people are able to get out more, spend more time together, safely. That would prime our industry for a comeback that I think people really want to see.”

Jennifer Beckmann
Certified Wine Educator & Sommelier; owner, ReRooted:210

On lessons: “We’ve learned some really valuable lessons in how we operate, especially as people start to get back out again. We’re seeing people that want to get back out, businesses that want to book get-togethers, but they want to do that in a controllable and safe way. The space that we have allows us to fill that niche, and as long as people are in a space that’s safe, where they have a modicum of control, the more receptive they are to spending time out and about. We’ve been booking a lot of corporate events, so we’re seeing corporate-structured businesses coming back, people are networking, and we learned that we have a prime space and location to facilitate that.”

On hopes: “We’ve also seen that people are largely receptive to building spaces in their communities to be safe, and that has led to us seeing a lot of localized support. People have been more supportive of localized products and businesses than I have ever seen before. And that’s a trend I hope continues.”

Daniel Trevino
Owner, Box Street All Day, Box Street Social

On hopes: “We just love seeing everyone’s smiling faces again. The connection between our guests and serving them is so gratifying to us. As we move forward, we are excited to see this normalize again: ... living every day to its fullest and enjoying everyone’s presence while we have it.”

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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