Arizona bar finds creative way to keep business going amid coronavirus closures

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PHOENIX -- Small businesses around the country grappling with “stay-at-home” restrictions placed by government officials amid the growing coronavirus outbreak have been forced to find creative ways to sell their products.

Jeremiah Gratza, a co-owner of the Thunderbird Lounge in Phoenix, Ariz., came up with a unique incentive for customers. After the city forced bars and restaurants to only offer delivery or drive-thru service, he started offering a free toilet paper roll for every beer or wine order.

Thunderbird Lounge owner Jeremiah Gratza tells Fox News that business is doing well after deciding to deliver beer and toilet paper when bars were ordered to close. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

Thunderbird Lounge owner Jeremiah Gratza tells Fox News that business is doing well after deciding to deliver beer and toilet paper when bars were ordered to close. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

“Since we had plenty of toilet paper for our bathrooms that we can no longer use, figured we’d give it out for free,” Gratza told Fox News. Thunderbird Lounge has closed its bar and has turned to delivery as a way to remain open during the near-lockdown of the city.

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Rising concerns over COVID-19 has left people nationwide and around the globe buying up essential supplies like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Stores across the country continue to struggle to keep them on their shelves.

Grocery store shelves remain empty for essential items like toilet paper, as customers continue to stock up (AP).

Grocery store shelves remain empty for essential items like toilet paper, as customers continue to stock up (AP).

“Even I am out, it is scarce to come by and I even work at Walmart,” Phoenix resident Tara Stocks told Fox News.

The scheme at Thunderbird Lounge appears to be working as its owners said they’ve been taking dozens of calls each day and made nearly $1,000 on their first day.

Thunderbird Lounge owners say they have three cases of toilet paper to hand out, that's almost 500 rolls. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

Thunderbird Lounge owners say they have three cases of toilet paper to hand out, that's almost 500 rolls. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

“We went until like 11 o’clock last night delivering and people were answering doors in their PJs and I handed them beer and toilet paper,” Thunderbird Lounge co-owner Brett Boyles told Fox News. "It’s kind of just door-to-door bartending, really."

Customers told Fox News they appreciate the lightheartedness during this difficult time and wanted to do their part to support a local business.

“It’s a very good idea, a lot of people are very worried, a lot of people just need the stress out, a lot of people are having trouble even finding the bare essentials,” said Stocks.

Owner Brett Boyles ran several deliveries on day two of deliveries, Fox New's Stephanie Bennett got to tag along. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

Owner Brett Boyles ran several deliveries on day two of deliveries, Fox New's Stephanie Bennett got to tag along. (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

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Without this loophole of being able to deliver beer to customers, Thunderbird Lounge and other similar businesses would probably have had no other choice but to fully close down.

“It would mean laying off all of our employees. This is the only job that they have that they rely on to pay their rent, their bills and we didn’t want to do that,” Gratza said.

Pizza Schmizza in Portland, Oregon are handing out free toilet paper rolls to customers with each order. (Pizza Schmizza, Inc.)

Pizza Schmizza in Portland, Oregon are handing out free toilet paper rolls to customers with each order. (Pizza Schmizza, Inc.)

Beyond Arizona, businesses like Pizza Schmizza in Portland, Oregon and Cambridge Bar and Grill in Minnesota are also using toilet paper to drum up business.

Cambridge Bar and Grill in Minnesota started handing out free toilet paper with every $25 or more delivery order. In one week they've gotten through 250 rolls of toilet paper. (Cambridge Bar and Grill).

Cambridge Bar and Grill in Minnesota started handing out free toilet paper with every $25 or more delivery order. In one week they've gotten through 250 rolls of toilet paper. (Cambridge Bar and Grill).

Helping keep customers happy, while also making a sale and keeping their employees at work.