The aluminum cans slowly slid down a metal track. Five at a time were filled with The Pupil and skirted down the line. The movement and noise were constant.
The long assembly line may have been the best investment at the right time for Societe Brewing Company in Kearny Mesa.
“I am very happy,” chuckled Societe’s CEO and founder, Doug Constantiner.
The craft brewery purchased the machinery in January and got it operational just as the pandemic shuttered bars, restaurants and businesses throughout California.
“2020 personally has been pretty tough,” explained Constantiner.
Constantiner said the pandemic ripped away more than 90% of his business.
“Everyone’s dealt bad hands,” Constantiner said. “So, what can you make out of that bad hand?”
Constantiner said that, since the pandemic hit, Societe dedicated a lot of resources to canning its craft beer and distributing it to outlets like Costco. It was so successful, it helped Constantiner expand the number of people he employs by 50%. Many of those new employees were furloughed or let go by other local breweries.
“Being able to employ people and increase the amount of jobs we’re offering?," Constantiner said with a smile. "That’s, honestly, what makes me sleep at night."
However, Societe’s success isn’t all in the cans currently being filled with an IPA called The Pupil. The public health rules during the pandemic dictate that breweries cannot sell beer in their tasting rooms unless they also sell food. Most breweries like Societe don’t have kitchens.
Constantiner said that’s why Societe partnered with Fit Tacos Meal Prep.
“They said, ‘You know what? Let’s start a food truck in the middle of a pandemic,’ ” remembered Constantiner.
“Due to COVID, sales plummeted,” Manny Yerena said.
His Fit Tacos Meal Prep adjusted.
“You’re struggling during COVID? Just give it your all. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Just keep going,” Yererna said while standing inside the doorway to his Fit Tacos food truck, which is now parked outside Societe anytime the brewery is open.
They two businesses have allowed each other to remain open to the public. It also allowed Yerena to increase his employees 150%.
“It’s been a blessing,” Yerenasaid.
“We’re lucky," concluded Constantiner. "We’re thankful. We’re fortunate,”