‘We had to. … We’ve been dying.’

Feb. 5—With COVID-19 ravaging Idaho, it might seem crazy to open a new business.

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For Loose Screw Beer Co., it would feel nuts not to.

The Garden City brewery and tasting room will debut a second, larger Meridian taproom at noon today at 1511 W. McMillan Road. The 2,200-square-foot gathering spot will welcome the community with shuffleboard, foosball, arcade games and comfy furniture.

Pandemic or not, co-owner Chris Hughes is letting out a sigh of relief.

“We’ve just been delay after delay after delay,” he said in a phone interview. “We’ve been dying. Because Garden City doesn’t generate the revenue we need to be profitable. So it’s nice to be done. We have lots of cool things inside.”

That includes 18 taps pouring about a dozen Loose Screw beers, plus Idaho guest brews, wine and hard cider.

Loose Screw Beer Co. first appeared at 4340 W. Chinden Blvd. in Garden City in early 2020, taking over the former Bella Brewing building. Almost immediately, the newcomer unveiled plans to expand to Meridian. That path took on urgency after the coronavirus started hammering restaurants, bars and pubs. The seven-barrel Garden City brewery, which relied heavily on in-house sales, has only a small taproom.

Launching the larger Meridian space, which has 10 new employees, wasn’t something that could be postponed.

“We had to,” Hughes said. “… If we weren’t getting Meridian open, COVID would have shut the whole company down.”

While Meridian rolls out the red carpet, the Garden City taproom will be closed until Feb. 12. When the Garden City space does reopen, Hughes says, its days of operation might be reduced to weekends.

Loose Screw in Meridian will be open seven days a week. Initial hours will be noon to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Customers are encouraged to bring food from nearby restaurants. Kids are welcome, too.

“It’s going to be a cool place to hang out,” Hughes said.

Online: loosescrew.beer.

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Sam Son

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