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The Brass Eye adapts business to beer, wine delivery

NILES — The Brass Eye in downtown Niles has a different look about it. The welcoming atmosphere is still the same, but the dining and seating is moved to the wall of the establishment. There are no cocktails being poured, and no one is gathering. On top of the tables sit packaged beer, wine and candles, ready to be sold those ordering curbside delivery or delivery to their doorsteps.

Two weeks ago, on March 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down dine-in services for bars and restaurants in response to the COVID-19 threat. Over the past two weeks, Bryan Williams, owner of The Brass Eye, has shifted his business’ focus to selling packaged beer, both as a curbside delivery option and as a delivery service as well.

Posts from the business’ Facebook show the space, formerly filled with customers enjoying libations, being stocked with six packs and cases of beer. The packaging is colorful and playful.  The variety of ale has grown to incorporate a larger variety of brews.

“This was my biggest order,” Williams said. “Three times my biggest beer order.”

As the business has transitioned to a model working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for precaution, he has seen a side of his business not as utilized before take center stage. Keeping a six foot distance between customers and himself during deliveries and not permitting gatherings in his business is a stark shift from the norm.

“I think people are grateful; some are surprised,” he said about the delivery option.

While the package sales are something the business can do even in more normal times, the logistics of both running the bar and functioning as carry-out store present a challenge. With running as a traditional bar being out of the picture for the time being, this keeps the establishment busy.

As time passes under the COVID-19 coronavirus, Williams is hopeful that more options are made available for owners like himself. Some of the hardest hit locations by the virus are seeing laws relaxed on to-go alcohol, with New York City and Los Angeles allowing for some to-go cocktails to be sold.

“We’re really hoping, even if not cocktails, [we will] just be able to do bottle service out the door,” Williams said.

Until then, he is hoping to continue serving customers.

At present, The Brass Eye is working on its current offerings. Food is on hold at the moment, but it is not off the table, as owners reorganize.

“I’m very much worrying about right now. I don’t think you can do anything else,” Williams said. “We are just taking it one day at a time. Right now, our focus is we are a carry-out beer and wine store. We will focus on that and continue to bolster our inventory as much as we can, for as long as sale are good. That’s just kind of what we’re doing right now.”

Working hard on the business he has built, Williams keeps a positive outlook while addressing what is in front of him.

“We’ll think about the future when it gets here,” he said.

The Brass Eye is continuing to stay closed on Mondays. The Facebook page continues to include updates of what is in store. Keeping the mood light, Williams has also posted a beer review of a new-to-him brew, and his own immunity boost technique. For the latter video, Williams presented the viewers with “The Brass Eye’s non-scientific coronavirus protection kit.”

The video showed him effortlessly consuming two garlic cloves before dropping a shot of Jeppson’s Malort into a glass of Emergen-C, and finishing off the glass with expert technique. The video had more than 1,700 views as of Monday afternoon.

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