Fort Smith Brewing Co. continues delivery through snow

Alex Gladden
Booneville Democrat
Quentin Willard loads up a couple of growlers for delivery, Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Fort Smith Brewing Co., 7500 Fort Chaffee Blvd. in Chaffee Crossing.

When COVID-19 hit, that didn't stop the boys at Fort Smith Brewing Co. from doing their job. They saddled up and started delivering their beer after a special law was passed. When the largest snowstorm in recent years hit, they continued their delivery through the snow.

Quentin Willard, the brewery owner, has been making most of the deliveries through the snow. The company delivers throughout Fort Smith. They deliver mostly to people's homes.

Willard, a Van Buren native who spent many years in northern states, has a four-wheel-drive truck which he said makes it safer to drive around town.

“It actually doesn’t look bad," Willard said of the roads. "The snow is way better than ice. It’s possible for us to actually do it without us being too unsafe."

Willard said the brewery has been getting about 20 deliveries a day.

This is a way for people to get food and beer during a time when they might not be able to get out in the snow.

“Everybody needs to be aware of their own limitations," Willard said. "If they feel unsafe or they don't feel comfortable driving around in the snow, please use our services." 

Quentin Willard loads up a couple of growlers for delivery, Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Fort Smith Brewing Co., 7500 Fort Chaffee Blvd. in Chaffee Crossing.

Fort Smith Brewing General Manager David Derry is asking people to keep in mind that it could take them a bit longer than usual to deliver their food and beer.

People can order delivery seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the snowy weather, the company has adjusted its hours to about noon to 7 p.m., Derry said.

Originally from Wisconsin, Derry said the snow has been comparable to what he remembers from his home state.

“This is kind of like a Wisconsin storm for sure," Derry said.

The brewery originally started doing deliveries when the governor closed restaurants in the spring.

“It was definitely a whole new business model for sure," Willard said.

He initially began making deliveries in his own vehicle but soon realized he needed something that was more fuel-efficient, so he bought a Prius to lower the cost of gasoline.

Willard said the delivery business has grown from there. He has talked to other business owners who did deliveries to perfect his business model. And he also learned as he went, growing from his own experiences.

The Fort Smith Brewing Co. taproom re-opened four to six months ago, but the company has continued its delivery service, Derry added. The taproom is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is still at limited seating because of the pandemic.

The taproom can fit 50 people with the COVID-19 limitations in place, Willard said. 

Quentin Willard pours a growler for delivery, Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Fort Smith Brewing Co., 7500 Fort Chaffee Blvd. in Chaffee Crossing.

Beer delivery law

The state made temporary changes to the laws to allow businesses to deliver alcohol to homes during the pandemic as a way to keep the businesses afloat. But Willard is now working with the legislature to try to make the change permanent.

Willard said for the most part lawmakers seem in favor of keeping the change. But there are some especially conservative legislators who are concerned about making alcohol too available to people.

The bill has passed the state House of Representatives and will move on to the Arkansas Senate as soon as the weather clears.

Willard advised people who would like to see alcohol deliveries made permanent to contact their state senators and show their support.

Benefits to continuing to provide alcohol deliveries to homes and businesses include that when people run out of alcohol they are not tempted to drive while intoxicated to get more, Willard said. They can just have their alcohol delivered.

It also proves particularly helpful in times like this when snow keeps people from being able to go out and buy their own alcohol, Willard said.

People can order food and beer from the brewery online at fortsmithbrewing.square.site