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Tampa Bay breweries counting on food licenses to save industry

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Posted at 11:46 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 04:34:43-04

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Some Tampa Bay area breweries are reopening this week as restaurants, serving food in an effort to save their business.

"We have to do it, there’s no way we can survive without it," said Bren Cueni, owner of Cueni Brewing Company in Dunedin.

Cueni and her husband embarked on their dream job four years ago. They never imagined their menu of craft brews would include food, too.

Food has become a saving grace for many breweries across Florida as the industry is still banned from serving alcohol on-site.

Plight of the craft pint: Florida brewery owners lobby state to reopen during the pandemic

Starting Thursday, Cueni Brewing Company will debut CueBru Cafe, a food truck featuring Cuban sandwiches, grilled cheese, pulled pork, and nachos, among other items.

"We’re playing this game and whatever cards we get dealt, we’re just going to play the game," said Cueni.

This week, officials with the Florida Department Business and Professional Regulation will meet with brewery and bar owners to discuss how to safely reopen the industry.

The meeting comes after the Florida Brewers Guild warned more than 100 breweries will likely close come August if nothing changes.

"The good news is that we’re good at pivoting and figuring out a way so that’s what we’ve done this time around as well," said Devon Kreps, owner of 7venth Sun Brewery.

Kreps welcomed customers back to her Dunedin brewery Wednesday after obtaining a food license.

"The entire outdoor patio right now is full of regulars, they were just itching to get back here so we’re happy to see them," said Kreps.