Local bars frustrated by liquor delivery delays

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bars expecting weekend liquor orders before Friday will no longer receive them, Republic National Distributing Company says.

It’s a part of a statewide liquor shortage that started in mid-October. It began when RNDC, one of three state authorized liquor distributors, moved from its Brownstown building to a new facility in Livonia to improve order turnaround time. Soon after the move, RNDC says it began experiencing “chronic software issues” including several hourslong spans where its systems went down or it didn’t have internet access. 

“We’ve always had some challenges along the way whether it’s software, numerous other challenges along the way,” RNDC Executive Vice President Michigan Steve Rochow stated. “But this has probably been the most challenging.”

Grand Rapids bar owners say the issues have led to their weekly alcohol deliveries coming days late, leaving them without a way to properly restock. They say there has been little communication.

logan's alley
Logan’s Alley in Grand Rapids. (Nov. 13, 2019)

“The first couple weeks, we didn’t know this was going to happen so we were running out of product,” Logan’s Alley owner Jak Mercer said.

Mercer said that the last few weekends his bar has run out of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, two of their bestsellers. He has since started ordering double or triple what he normally does to keep the products in stock.

“There’s frustration because there’s no one that ever answers there whenever I call the distributor,” Mercer said. “So I can’t ever get an answer when our delivery will actually be coming.”

RNDC announced Tuesday (PDF) that bar owners who were expecting weekly orders to arrive between Wednesday and Friday would not get them at all. The company will instead use the time to catch up on previously delayed orders. Bar owners will have to reorder items that were supposed to be delivered this week.

RNDC is also planning to move 20% of its stock back to the previous facility in Brownstown to restore some normalcy. 

“We know there’s a lot of family-owned businesses that need our product through the state of Michigan and that’s our number one priority,” Rochow said.

RNDC hopes to have operations back to normal by next week. It says it will not be accepting customer service calls in the meantime. It asks that bar owners contact it via the service email address or order track email address with questions. 

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