Saturday, June 04, 2005


Delivery workers are currently striking Lohr Distributing Co., the exclusive distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in the city of St. Louis. The management of The Royale Food and Spirits has decided not to carry products distributed by Lohr Distributing.

This is what is posted in the bar right now. I cancelled deliveries from Lohr a couple weeks ago when I found out the strike was indeed on. I know some union guys, while some are cool, others are some serious dirtbags. I didn't stock up ahead of time either. It didn't even occur to me to do that.

I asked my bartenders how the customers were reacting to the lack of AB products. I got some pretty cool and interesting bartenders. They are well rounded, conscious, fun, educated and sharp. They come from varied backrounds and all of them have experience and are not haters.

The bartenders told me the vast majority of the people were both impressed and supportive of our choice to refuse deliveries from Lohr. There have only been a handful of people that walked out because we are not serving AB. And honestly, I am not that sure that is our kind of crowd. One of the most experienced bartenders commented for we may want to drop carrying AB altogether. I found this extremely odd, for she was the one that wanted to keep Bud Lite on draft while I wanted to switch it out. She has quite a bit of experience in the industry and has spoken only positively about AB before. She had told me that we needed to keep the Bud Lite for certain. I kept the Bud Lite on draft for her. Now after experiencing what it has been like without any AB products, her tune has changed. She suggested that we might want to drop AB products in general. I am not so sure about that.

I have a soft spot for AB. It is the big hometown brew. I worked at the ballpark so I could sell Busch Beer. I thought it was cool that old man Gussie wanted to be the namesake of Busch to be that kind of beer. It just felt warm when he was at the ballpark. He was a generous old man. He would often buy drinks for the house, and he did not differentiate what kind of drinks the lucky people could order. He would often get a whiskey himself. I had warm feelings for AB, although I think they have fallen way out of touch over the past fifteen years. They have a lot to lose if they don't change up.

But another bartender, one of the very hip younger ones, also had an indifferent feeling on the AB since the strike. She originally made it clear to make sure we kept Busch beer in stock. I agreed with her, despite the protests by others to drop the Busch. I have always liked the mountain man and I felt it was an honor to carry it. Things have changed, now my hip young bartender honestly could care less about carrying any AB after she even wanted to keep the Busch.

I want to carry AB. I would be proud to carry it again, just as I was proud to call out "who here is a mountain man, raise your hand!" at the ballpark. But I do want to make sure that people get covered for health. The white collar guys at the brewery get stellar benefits. If the drivers don't get decent benefits then we all get fewer benefits. Big companies like AB and Lohr sets the standards for the rest of our nation. If they feel the pinch on health care, then hopefully they will support a more universal health care for Americans. It would be a positive thing that would move us all toward a healthier and more responsible citizenry.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will continue to support any establishment that is in support of the strike. I am an AB product drinker, however...given the circumstances..I have miraculously found a new drink of choice. I applaud you and all of the customers in standing with the delivery workers in their fight for what is right. Unfortunately, I don't think many establishments have been as bold as you to take that stand. Keep standing, I'm sure you're business will withstand and the message your sending speaks volumes.

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you providing health insurance for your employees?

Just curious.

P Bu

9:35 AM  
Blogger Burt Bollinger said...

P Bu, I'm no insurance expert, nor fully up on the reasons for the strike, but as far as your question... I'd say that young hipster bartenders who average 10 hours a week, and are for the most part personal aquaintences of a bar owner, probably do not expect health insurance...whereas, a full time truck driver probably does.

my 2 cents.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

I am not. I am looking into it, but I need to get the deal going for the short term before I cost that out. The standard in the industry is not to. I may, but it all depends on how I do. I am more comfortable with universal so the cost is spread more evenly. But that doesn't exist. I do provide a myriad of complex vitamins and a free gym membership to all my employees. And they can do their laundry. And I help them find cars and help them out other ways, much more than any other employer. Seriously.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Christy said...

Hey. I haven't been to the Royale yet, but just wanted to give a thumbs up for supporting the strike.

My understanding is that only 3 establishments in Soulard are not accepting Lohr deliveries: the Cat's Meow is one, but I can't remember who K. Ortmann told me the other two are. I found this unsettling. The Cat's did stock up, but are now completely out of Busch bottles (still have cans) and the other product inventory is dropping as well.

I got a great deal on Miller Lite at the Citgo the other day...

2:27 PM  

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