ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Not only did the pandemic hit the business side of craft breweries hard, it also had a major impact on the people those breweries employ. Maybe none as much as the employees at Brewability in Englewood — employees with physical and developmental disabilities.
“Some employees didn’t handle it as well or didn’t understand why they couldn’t come to work,” co-owner Tanner Schneller said.
The brewery currently has thirteen employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities on staff. The employees brew and pour beer, wait tables and work a meaningful job.
“I think they feel included as normal people in society when they’re here and working,” Schneller said.
Schneller and his wife, Tiffany, started the brewery a few years ago.
“She noticed there was a lack of opportunity for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities once they turned 21,” he said.
Tony is one of Brewability’s bartenders.
“She realized how capable and how hard working and how important it is for people to be seen as having potential,” he said.
He says he likes hearing the stories of people who come in for a beer. Though, for him, that isn’t easy. Tony is partially deaf and partially blind.
“The really hard part is figuring out where it’s all coming from and if it’s in front of me,” he explained about listening to folks.
Tony calls Brewability a family, adding that if it wasn’t for his workplace, he thinks he would “be unemployed and miserable.”
So when the pandemic hit and the brewery shut down, that became real for Tony and his coworkers.
“It’s really hard because I need to get out of the house,” he said. “I need to work for mental health reasons and physical health reasons.”
But with case numbers dropping and vaccines going out, Brewability has started to rebound back.
“It’s nice to have our staff back, nice to welcome customers through our doors again,” Schneller said.
The brewery is now expanding their hours back to closer to normal.
“With more days, with more people in here, the more help we need,” Schneller said. “So I know we’re gonna start looking into hiring some people soon.”
Tony is loving being back at work.
“It’s just very calm and homey,” he said.
The business is, in some ways, taking cues from its own employees — facing challenges and coming out on top.
“Just excited to be busier, to bring more people into the fold and have a fun successful summer,” Schneller said.
“You can get a beer anywhere, you can get good bartending anywhere — it’s the customer service and it’s that family community that we’re really selling,” Tony added.
For more info on Brewability, including their updated hours, click here.