The Sarasota brewery was hurt significantly by COVID-19, court documents show.

One of Sarasota’s most beloved local breweries has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


JDub’s Brewing Company — known for beers like Bell Cow milk chocolate porter and Poolside Kolsch, and for its brewery where people gather to watch live music, do yoga and just hang out — filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Middle District of Florida on April 6.


Daniel Etlinger, the Tampa-based bankruptcy attorney representing JDub’s, said the brewery, owned by Jeremy Joerger, has every intention of continuing to operate.


Before COVID-19, JDub’s was trying to put itself into a position to sell or possibly merge with another brewery, Etlinger said. The company took on additional debt to put itself into a better position for a possible sale.


But once Major League baseball spring training was canceled, and restaurants took a significant hit and were ordered to close, business suffered, according to court documents. The brewery closed its taproom on March 20 as a safety precaution.


"The debtor believes very strongly in its business model and reputation," court documents filed by Etlinger read. "However, the significant amount of energy and time the debtor has been forced to spend dealing with the above-mentioned concerns has taken its toll on the debtor and therefore necessitated the instant filing."


JDub’s grossed $2,105,001 in income in 2019 and $2,506,697 the year before, court documents show. As of the petition date, gross income for 2020 was $352,370. The company owes more than $1 million to unsecured creditors.


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Before it filed for bankruptcy, JDub’s applied for a loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program and received a loan of about $131,000.


Etlinger said lawyers filed a motion on Tuesday asking a judge to authorize the use of those funds, because the issue of whether bankrupt companies can use PPP money is a subject under debate nationwide.


For example, Cosi, the Boston-based fast-casual food chain, said in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Small Business Administration that it was denied PPP funds because it had filed for bankruptcy protection in February.


There’s a question on the application form that asks, among other things, if the applicant is currently involved in bankruptcy. If the answer is yes, the application will be denied, according to the form.


Cosi argued in its complaint that discriminating on the basis of whether a company has filed for bankruptcy is in direct conflict with the purpose of the CARES Act and the PPP.


Other companies have filed for bankruptcy after receiving funds, including Florida-based TooJay’s Deli.


Jennis said JDub’s is working with its banks and its debtors to find a way through this difficult time.


"They're doing everything they can to stay in business. They’ve got a plan, they’ve got a budget, and they’ve got the ability to make it work," he said.


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