Watching the Kansas City Chiefs defend their championship title Sunday will certainly look different than it did when the hometown team earned it in 2020, John Kennebeck said.
And for local business owners, such a change presents yet another opportunity to call plays on pandemic pivots.
COVID-19 has “exponentially” altered plans at 3 Halves Brewing Co. for what normally would be a packed house of rowdy revelers, ready to run it back, said Kennebeck, owner of the Liberty-bottled business.
“We actually are not going to be open for the Super Bowl. We just don’t feel comfortable drawing big crowds. We’ve been very, very careful. We’ve taken a hard line stance on social distancing and mask wearing — and 99 percent of the people who come through our door appreciate it,” he continued, adding the brewing company will instead focus its efforts on curbside service, bolstered by game day specials.
Such celebratory offerings will include “Back 2 Back,” a limited edition beer release that will see 3 Halves partner with Excelsior Springs-tapped Dubious Claims Brewing Co. to release two beers, over two days — Friday and Saturday — celebrating two cities, and two shots at a Super Bowl title.
The brews themselves — sold as run it back red and run it back gold — take the theme one step further, each boasting a 7.5 percent alcohol content, which when consumed together adds up to 15 in honor of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
A serial entrepreneur with exits under his belt, Kennebeck relocated to the metro from Trenton, Missouri in 2018 with plans of opening a co-packing company.
Requests for beverage canning work led him on the hunt for equipment — and to the doorstep of Rock and Run Brewery, which had just closed its doors.
Along with their canning equipment, Kennebeck bought the brewery which formally became 3 Halves Brewing Co. in September 2019.
The brewery is also home to Jousting Pigs BBQ.
“Everybody wants to see a sports team succeed in the local arena. When our teams excel, it propels the market,” Kennebeck said of ways a return ticket to the big game could deliver just as big of a score for local bars, restaurants, and retailers.
Fifteen cents of every pour will be donated to the 15 and Mahomies Foundation, Kennebeck said.
“We’re just trying to engage patrons in the community as much as we can and give back as much as we can,” he said.
“As sports teams do well, the city does well. It brings more commerce to the city, it brings more people to the city. It makes it more of a destination.”
Good things don’t come easy, however, Kennebeck noted, using the origins of the 3 Halves name as an example of what it takes to succeed.
“It’s a testament to the fact that you have to give 150 percent to make things happen,” he said, adding that, much like the Chiefs, succeeding when you’re up against a stiff competitor takes an incredible amount of grit — especially when your rival is a global pandemic.
“We were seeing a lot of growth and then in March of 2020 we were forced to go to carry out only; the pandemic was in its infancy. We just had to try and be as creative as we could considering the situation,” Kennebeck recalled.
“We’ve got really good local support here in Liberty and we try to support the community as best as we can.”
No matter the score, Kennebeck said he’ll always find a way keep running forward — a characteristic he hopes he and the championship Chiefs have in common come 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
“I think it’s going to be a great game. We’ve got two iconic quarterbacks — Mahomes just getting started with his legacy and Brady’s been around for so long, he’s a warrior in the game. It’ll be a fun one to watch. I predict a close game, but I think the Chiefs will pull it out,” the same can be said for 3 Halves as it navigates what’s left of the pandemic.
“I don’t believe in giving up. There’s always a silver lining. You just have to find it.”