Getting Back to Business Post Covid-19: What Bars & Restaurants Need to Know  4/13/2020


Once the coronavirus pandemic passes, we'll all be getting back to business -- but getting back to business for bars and restaurants may be particularly challenging with potental social distancing requirements and consumers who will remain cautious about being near others. 

In this epidsode, ECRM's Joseph Tarnowski speaks with Bar Business Magazine Publisher Art Sutley and Editor Ashley Bray about what a post Covid-19 world will look like for bars and restaurants, and how owners and operators of these establishments can best prepare for this new normal.

Buyers and suppliers of on-premise and off-premise alcoholic beverages can connect virtually in ECRM's upcoming Efficient Supplier Introductions. Click here for more information and to see the ESI listings


Listen to the podcast here


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

ECRM: Joseph Tarnowski here with ECRM and I have with me Art Sutley, the publisher of Bar Business magazine and Ashley Bray, the editor of Bar Business magazine, and we're going to talk about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the bar and restaurant industry. We’ll discuss what they can do about it now and even more importantly, how they can prepare for when the pandemic passes and they're getting back to business. So guys, thank you for joining us. To start off, for those who may not be familiar with the publication, can you give an overview of Bar Business?

Sutley: Sure. So Bar Business magazine is 13 years old. Right now we're being read by over 90, 000 bar owners, restaurant owners, nightclub owners, restaurant owners and also managers and food and beverage directors. We are how-to publication, so we're completely built for industry. This is not a magazine you're going to find out there unless it's being sent to you because you fit our criteria as an owner operator. We developed this publication to help the industry elevate, so we're really trying to connect them with other bar owners doing the right thing and also what products and services are out there that they can implement into their business. And that's really where Ashley Bray comes in as the editor, she's out there researching products, looking at different restaurants and bars that are doing great things and reporting it to the industry.

ECRM: Speaking of that, Ashley, since your ears to the ground all the time, what is happening? Take us through her timeline from when the coronavirus started getting bad, and then the lockdown and up until where we are now. What are you seeing?

Bray: I think it started out slowly. We thought maybe it would be something that was limited. A couple of bars were limiting occupancy, spacing out tables, but then we hit the ground running and it exploded. Seattle was one of the first places we saw that actually shut down bars and restaurants. And I think that's when I first started to realize this is going to be big. And now we're in the thick of it. We just went through the first of the month with rents due. That was a hardship for bars and restaurants. They also are still collecting taxes from these establishments. So a lot of bar owners and operators have gone out there and tried to lobby to get those reduced or delayed with varied measures of success. New York was a big one, for example, where they did not delay it.

They just said that they will forgive interest and penalties on these payments, but they are dealing with that but don't have the money coming in. How are you going to pay these taxes, pay the rent. So we have had places that have already shut their doors. I'm anticipating more will do so, but there's also been a lot of creativity in this industry just to find ways to stay in business, find ways to continue to serve customers and put out the food and beverage products that people are used to receiving. So it's definitely been a roller coaster ride over the last month or so.

ECRM: Can you talk about some of the creative ways that these guys are trying to stay alive and get some business?

Bray: Definitely. We've seen a little bit of everything. Takeout and delivery obviously is leading the way. If a bar or a restaurant hasn't done it, they're definitely doing it now. Aside from that, people have gotten really creative. A lot of states have relaxed to the regulation surrounding selling beer, wine and liquor. Typically you couldn't get that to go. But now states have relaxed that and said, okay, if you're giving out take out, you can also sell these products. But in order to distinguish themselves, instead of just selling bottled wine, they're also selling batched cocktails, so I can go to the liquor stores, which are still opening by my favorite bottle of wine. I don't need to go to your bar for that, but now they're getting, they're batching their cocktails. So let's say I have a favorite drink at my local neighborhood bar that I am really missing, I can go and get that to-go in a big batch of serves two to three people, so that's been brilliant. 

A lot of these places are also reinventing themselves as a grocery store or a liquor store. We've seen this in a few examples of bars and restaurants doing this. They get on social media and let everyone know. Paradise in New York was one that did it. They came out and said, we are now Paradise Wines and Liquor. So they sell those batched cocktails. They sell beer and wine. I just put a story on our website recently about a restaurant down in Florida called Oceans 234. Their menu doesn't lend itself well to take out. So she said, how do I bring in money? She transitioned to a grocery store and so all of her sitting stock and inventory, she now sells to people as grocery store items. So I think bars are really getting creative.

ECRM: That's really cool. I actually have a restaurant around the corner from me that did the same thing. It's called Nino's AQ. They’re an Italian restaurant and they switched over to a marketplace format. So now they're selling packages of scratch-made pasta and they make their own pasta sauce. They're doing the batch drinks that you were talking about. And they even changed their Seamless account to reflect that. So now you can pick by the ingredient instead of buy a meal. And I think, you know, the first couple of days they was selling out by the afternoon. Do you think this is going to change the way people think about delivery and takeout? 

Sutley: I do. It’s changing the perception of what the restaurant is. Those savvy bar owners realized liquor stores sales were up, and they said, wait a minute – cocktail delivery has not really been something that the U S has embraced. I mean, literally before this pandemic broke out, I was at a conference where they were talking about how we're moving towards this direction and maybe eight months, 12 months, we're going to be at a point in time where you're going to see a lot more larger chain and national accounts starting to do small cocktail delivery. But the states weren't having it then and I think it was kind of an overload, right? Like all of a sudden this happened. Every state then says its okay for all to start selling cocktails out of your door. Nobody was prepared for this. They left the liquor stores open and people were going to liquor stores and droves and they were skipping over the restaurant because it's not something that's they are accustomed to buying from.

They weren't saying, I'm going to swing by that bar and take a cocktail to go. That's why it's on premise. They're used to drinking it on premise. So they had to change the perception and say, you know what, if you know what a liquor store is and you're going to there currently, then we're going to change ourselves temporarily and we're going to just call ourselves a liquor store or grocery store. And it works for a lot of them. And I think that was really, really an important pivot for some of the establishments to say, okay, this isn't the time to try to teach America about delivery cocktails or cocktails to go, let's just make ourselves familiar into something that they already know.

ECRM: That's really smart because how else do you make that pivot so fast? The actual rebranding is one way to do it because if somebody is searching on Seamless for a wine or liquore store they will see it. I also read that there was one independent grocer, I forget where, but they actually started working with restaurants to make their prepared foods and they were selling the restaurants prepared food as prepared food items in the grocery store, and giving the money to the restaurant. Are you seeing collaborations with other retailers like this?

Sutley: Yeah, everybody's looking for the next space, right? Grocery stores have a lot of space, right? You're seeing it from the beer standpoint where they're actually, you know, selling growlers and doing more craft programs in a supermarket. And that's just something that we're not accustomed to seeing. But now we're seeing more and more and I think the supermarkets are being smart about it, right? They're not trying to get into a business that they don't know. They're not trying to say, Hey, let's start preparing like restaurant-type quality food. Let's partner with somebody who does it really, really well on their end and let's just give them another platform, another area in order to sell that. So I think it's smart. And I think as you've seen some of the same programs as well. 

Bray: I think it's important right now to get through this together. So to team up with who you can, where you can. And the other side of it is marketing. I think social media is huge right now because the people you're appealing to more than anyone are your existing customers. You want to make sure they know that you're still there and that you're still offering products, that you have these new takeout cocktails. So you have to make sure you're blasting that out on social media. Communication is huge right now.

Sutley: I think one of the things I'd like to say too is, cause I've been seeing this a lot and I think this is important for owner operators or people out there to understand. We have seen an overwhelming amount of GoFundMe pages for staff. Great opportunity to help the people, especially as a regular customer to help the bartenders and servers that you see weekly. My issue with what I'm seeing with some of that is I've noticed that owner operators have just thrown pages up and say, help me fund my staff, yet they actually have not made the first donation. So if there are owner operators listening to this, I don't care if it's $50, I don't care if it's $500, be the first one in there and show that you're not just dumping this on your customers and saying, Hey, well I'm closed and if you want to help these people, you can.

We understand that all owners are in a difficult position right now. So the number, the amount of money doesn't matter to me. It's the fact that they're making the effort as well. And I think that the people that are tapping into that have the best success with the GoFundMe pages saying, Hey, you know, these are tough times. I'm going to start this out. I love my staff. I can't wait to get to open and get back into the swing of things. But they have to make that first initiative. It looks like they're just dumping it on all their customers. And let me tell you something. We have a lot of choices when it comes to GoFundMe pages. But that's what I'm watching for. I'm watching to see which owner is making the initiative to say, Hey, I've got to throw a little in here too. 

ECRM: Yeah. They're standing behind their message. That's why I found it so interesting. Like actually to your point about social media and jumping on that and engaging your current customers. And then also art what you just said about, you know, finding ways to take care of your staff. That's why I was so blown away by what Cul+ure Collective is doing with the virtual happy hours and cocktail classes. I'm not going to get into too much detail here because I went into detail in my podcast interview with them. But just in summary, this restaurant was doing a virtual happy hour and cocktail class where they had a Zoom meeting and invited all of their regular guests through social media, and it was two of their bartenders. One was in the bar, one was at home and they taught everyone how to make four different cocktails and had interactivity and entertainment in between. But the cool thing was it costs $10 to participate, and all of that money went to the bar staff – and they ended up getting 120 to 130 live participants. And they also had a tip jar which also went to the bartenders. So I thought that was cool and just a unique way to kind of solve both of those things to kind of keep people engaged and also to draw support. 

Bray: I think that's a good way to distinguish yourself than just a regular GoFundMe page. Like Art was saying, we've seen a lot of that too. Virtual happy hours. I had a bar that we wrote about a couple of months ago that did a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” style trivia show with a couple of its bartenders and they raised funds for the pool of money that they would give to the winning bartender. And the way they did that was you could vote by ordering the cocktail represented by that bartender to go on that restaurant's menu ahead of the event. So it was just having a really fun way to get your customers involved and give them a way to donate and support staff other than just putting up a GoFundMe page.

Sutley: One place out of Boston was actually raffling off dates with the bartenders and servers and it will be in the bar. So it's not like they're going outside somewhere, they're keeping in a safe location, but when all this is over you can have a dinner, hang out and just have a night with the bartender. And it all went into a pool. They pooled everything together, and some of them were going for $850 and $1,000. So people are really trying to help their establishment. It's just coming up with the super unique ways that you can get through this crowd because there's a lot of noise right now saying, help me, help me, help me, help my staff, help us. How do you stand out from that? Because right now pretty much all bars and restaurants across the U S are shutdown and some are limited staff doing take out. So how do you fight through that? And we've seen some really stellar people that have sat down and thought some really good things through.

ECRM: I liked that idea too because it's money but, but it will also encourage people to come when it opens up again, so it's to drive traffic for later. What about the pure bars? I know here in New York anybody that serves food or has a menu can stay open for takeout and delivery. What about the bars that Have no menu? Here they had to shut down completely. Is there anything that those bars could do to stay open? I'm not as familiar with the, the regulations and how that works.

Bray: We've seen something where you had to require food with takeout to get cocktails and drinks and someone got around that by offering their house Chex mixe or a special mix they had at the bar. So it could be something as simple as that. 

Sutley: I think this opens up the door for bars that don't offer food to start really looking into ventless kitchen items. I mean, you have so many options out there like Donut Italia, which is a Bentley's pizza system that you can have. Some of those people are trying to get those in their establishments right now cause they didn't have it. So they're like, wait a minute, I need this to keep the doors open. I think this is going to be a, I'm an eyeopener for those establishment to say, okay, I need to have something because we actually, we don't know if this is going to come back around again. We hope not. And we're doing everything we can to pray and stay inside so that this doesn't happen again. However, people need to start realizing you need to offer some food items in case of situations like this. 

ECRM: Have you hear anything about how the virtual kitchens are doing? Ghost kitchens are probably the best set up for something like this because they never had a physical dine-in space to begin with. 

Sutley: We see people ordering right a lot. They feel comfortable with that. There's not a situation where we've got to the point where people are saying, you know, take out as bad. So establishments that chose to have an off location kitchen just for just for delivery, they're in a good situation right now because, yes, their main location might be closed or they might be functioning with both or they've closed down their larger establishment, which is a higher maintenance and they're running everything out of the ghost kitchen. So they're doing well. I think we're very happy that companies like GrubHub and Seamless have stepped up in most of the cases and reduced some of their rates for restaurant owners to hold on. I think that was 100% necessary. They could have capitalized on it a lot differently and they understand the greater good is to keep these places open and not to have these delivery fees for this. 

The hospitality industry was in a great situation. We were elevating, we're moving fast, we were doing a lot of great things and the trajectory on where we were was just constantly going up. And that's not going to change in what the future is going to bring. It's going to be a little different. But this is a speed bump, a really long speed bump, right? It's a slow speed bump. But when we come out of this, we're going to be going fast again. And the key is that it's a speed bump. We didn't hit a wall. This is just to slow us down a little bit and this is where we need to step back up for what we need to be doing for the future. 

ECRM: Speaking f the future, what are some of the things that bar and restaurant operators should be focusing on now to prepare for when this is over?

Bray: I just wrote an article on what the industry may look like in the wake of Covid 19. And I think the biggest takeaway that I found is that it's not going to be business as usual. This will kind of change the landscape of consumer expectations. And I think bar owners and restaurant operators need to number one, look at social distancing because even if we get out of this and in a month or two life goes somewhat back to normal, there's a lot of people, especially the older demographics that aren't going to be ready to crowd into a bar in the way that they may have in the past. So I look at your barstool seating, look at the space between tables, look at the capacity of your bar and if you want to fill it to capacity or if you want to kind of reduce the amount of seatings. 

Cleanliness is also a big one. Not to say that the bar and restaurant scene hasn't been clean; it has been, but the standards now have been elevated. Like it's no longer enough to just say, yeah, we have a clean kitchen. Don't worry about it. Your customers want to see that your chefs and your cooks are wearing masks, that they're wearing medical grade gloves and  that they're not in street wear, and that you're doing everything you can to make sure that the food that you are serving people from start to finish is not contaminated in any way. You're using clean surfaces, things like that. So that is going to be another big part of that social media push of marketing. Let your customers know what you're doing. This is the new world we've found ourselves in. And other than that, I think it's just going to be preparing for maybe a little bit less traffic flow, especially in the beginning because people are still going to be leery I think. 

Sutley: I do believe when we come out of this, I don't think they're going to open the floodgates to everybody and say, hey, it's time – go about your business the way you did seven weeks ago. So if there are lower occupancies in restaurants and bars, that's a difficult thing, right? Like bars and restaurants that I've consulted for. When you start building your plan, you're looking at, okay, what's your overhead. How many times you can turn over tables in order to generate revenue? But what happens when they say, hey, for a specific amount of time, if you're a restaurant holds 250 people, that number is not your number anymore. Your number is now one 75 because we want you to move people and distance them away from each other and we don't want tables right next to each other.

Obviously in the New York city setting and LA and Chicago, we've all been there. They really pack those tables in there for to get as much out of the square footage as they possibly can. So this is going to be difficult for these laces. Or even when this opens up and we can start going back to business, this is going to be hard because it's not going to be business as usual and our numbers are going to be different, but yet their overhead is not changing. Their landlord is still going to expect a specific rent for the space for that that month. So what I'm going to start proposing that if it goes that way, is that we need to start lobbying hard for our governments and States to allow cocktail delivery to continue. So if we can't have as many people in restaurants, in bars, dining and hanging out in there, we need to find the revenue from somewhere else.

And that revenue can be found from to-go orders and delivery orders going up in size. And the way to do that is allow cocktail delivery. Because we know restaurant and bar owners make a good return on liquor sales. So we need those liquor sales to still go out the door and be able to in a delivery system. And I think we'll be much more prepared in delivery once we can kind of get on our feet a little bit. This was thrown at us, and people didn't have the right cups, they didn't have printed recipes for things that maybe you can't pre batch and maybe the customer has to do a little in-home mixology when they do get it and they can follow a recipe card. So we're going to need to be sure that we can fight for that because we're going need to make it up somewhere.

And I do believe, and I think Ashley believes the same way, that we are going to control how many big groups we can be in. Like I don't see 250 person weddings happening when we come out of this for a while there the States are going to look at that and say, Hey, people fly in for weddings. That's all we need is to have the virus start up again. So you know, these are the things that we're going to have to change and we're going to have to change how we do business as an industry.

ECRM: I wonder if also the social media and virtual events that are happening now will carry over into when the bars and restaurants open up again. This could be helpful if they are still limited in the number of people who can be seating on-premise – maybe a kind of omni-channel hybrid situation of on premise and virtual at the same time. Maybe each bar station has its own little camera that's tied into the zoom meetings so that everybody could participate. 

Bray: I think anything's possible. And I think bars should also look at that virtual realm as a place to give education because a lot of bars do tastings, they give seminars on different spirits and their origins and I think virtual platforms are great way to do that.. And then you can charge people, it's X amount of dollars to sit in on this session and then you're kind of unlimited in the amount of people you can bring in and have participate in that session. So I think the sky's the limit in terms of the virtual platforms.

ECRM: Messaging and social media is going to be more important than ever because like you said, people are going to have different expectations. All of us are now far more aware of social distancing of people wearing gloves of sanitation and sterilization. And then they're going to know, well, they'll feel more comfortable if you're letting them know, including in your messaging and marketing, the fact that you are cleaning and sanitizing the bar, kind of reassuring customers.

Sutley: That's it. It's going to be essential. It's going to be essential for people to show that they've made these changes because one, okay, there's a demographic out there who this affects way more radically than other individuals. We've seen that. So what do you do for people that age who are in that real scary position where if they do get this, things are very tough for them. So our older diners and drinkers, they need to feel that reassurance, especially people who have immune problems or asthma, this is very scary for them. And I'm a guy who works out all the time and I'm hearing about people who are totally fine and it's really beats them down. It's really tough for them to get out of this. So there needs to be a comfort level.

And I think using social media to show that they have made these changes is going to be essential because if somebody goes to their favorite establishment, but they feel like now when we come out of this, that that establishment is not doing as good of a job as this other establishment over here, they will change to the other location because this is their life and their health that they're talking about. This is no longer the relationship. I love that bartender there. The owner's a great guy. But I don't want to get sick and I don't want this to happen to the world again. 

So we need to really show that we've made the changes and down to an independent owner or a chain, this needs to be their messaging moving forward. It has to be in their marketing and we're all going to be tired about hearing about Covid 19 and we're going to like shake our head every time we hear it. But even when we come out of this, it's going to be a part of their marketing to show that they've made the changes. I'm seeing it right now on TV from places like Papa John's, Domino's Jersey Mike's, they're all talking about how they're doing, you know, touchless food operations. They're trying to make us feel comfortable and showing us that they are making the efforts in order to still get you something that might be your favorite pizza or your favorite sub. So it's essential for the restaurants and bars to do the same thing.

Bray: Yes. I think it's important to start doing it now too. It's, it's going to make a difference once we come out of this and people start dining in again. But right now it's huge to cause a lot of people are leery about ordering takeout or ordering curbside pickups. So make sure your customers know that you are going to more lengths now to clean and to ensure that the food that you're offering is, is safe and is good. And the way to start doing that is through social media on your website. Now is really the time to start prepping for when you open back up.

ECRM: What I think is happening is those operators who are really good at social media before this all happened, they're doing a lot better now than the ones who are playing catch up. By the same token, the ones who are preparing now for what's happening next are the ones who are going to do better. And so what about non-digital things, but what about operationally, numbers-wise, menu-wise, what human resource wise, what are some things that operators should be considering during this time? Maybe trying new things out, to gear up so that not only when they open, maybe they could improve their business. Maybe they can reinvent themselves. So what are some things that they should be looking at?

Sutley: I guess there's a couple of different layers to this. I see a bunch of owner operators being very aggressive right now with saying, okay, my staff's out of work, I'm going to rehire them and actually have them coming in cleaning, painting. They're ordering new furniture, having them put together a new furniture, they're making improvements to their business. They're not just sitting back. And I love to see that now. Not everyone's in that position to do that right now if cash flow is a problem. I think a lot of owner-operators should be researching technology. I think that's going to be a big player here in the future. Individuals who maybe want to now like tap out from their table without having to wait for the check to come. There might be a time where a little less human interaction is going to be better.

And this is semi contradictory to what the hospitality industry has been. We've all been showmanship, guys behind the bar making beautiful cocktails, running around, that flow, that excitement is what has driven environments for people to want to go out and dine and have drinks. So I think they should be looking at some different technology upgrades. I think it's an opportunity now while you're down you can do a lot of learning. Ashley and her stable of writers have been working overtime on getting content out there on what people can be doing now instead of just sitting back. If you're sitting back on your heels right now and taking this as a punch to the jaw, you're going to come out of this and it's going to be real hard for you to get going. You need to be educating yourself now on what products are out there to help you. And not all of them are very expensive. A lot of them are affordable, and start finding out what you can add to your business now while you're sitting back in order to come out of the gates stronger when expectations are going to be at the highest level.

Bray: I think Art makes a good point. Technology is huge right now and bars should also look at the technology they currently have, their POS system. If they have a robust system, one that's been made in the last few years, they have a treasure trove of data in that system that they could be accessing right now to look at what are their top performers on your beverage menu, what are your top selling food items? I think long-term you need to look at your menu and kind of scaling that down because if you're making changes in your backroom and your kitchen and cleaning more and maybe changing the way you're going about preparing food, that may take longer and you may not be able to have all of the options on your menu that you did prior to Covid 19 happening. So one of the big things to do I think is to look at your top performers and what sells and what does well and to do that to the best of your ability and to market it and tell people this is safe, this isn't, you know, this is what we're doing. This is our process. So start at the POS level because that every transaction is in there and that data is king and that is all of your data right in there. So I would start there, evaluate what's been going on in your business and kind of go from there.

ECRM: I think now also it might be a good time to hire well. A lot of these guys had to let people go. So that means there's a lot of great people floating around. I think maybe they should start courting some of these top players that are out there. Once things get back to normal, they can steal them for their own.

Sutley: I think that staffing is the hardest thing in the restaurant industry and I think a lot of people get comfortable because they know people. And, and maybe there are five and not a 10, but they keep them around. And you know, I've always said you really need to push for the best staff. You need to have you’re A-team all the time and you need to try to keep them for as long as you can. So now is an opportunity to say, okay, this person was a five and you know, maybe they've gone off and done something else. This is your opportunity now to get yourself an eight or nine and it might be not the next person you hire and you might have to go to another person. But you have to consistently drive to find those individuals that are going to sell your business and be a good fit for what your image is for your business

We're in a very interesting time right now. And you know, Ashley was talking about like changing up your menu and looking at things with the POS system. You should be also looking at who rings your highest, who are your best people. And if they are, this is the time to have them train the other people in our daily lives. It's very difficult. A bar owner, you have a thousand things thrown at you in one day. A lot of them have the POS systems have all the information Ashley was talking about and they don't look at it. They don't utilize it right now. You should figure out what beers are selling the highest for you and start setting up what your schedule is going to be, but when you come out of this and have your top performing products be your specials and push those because this will get you out of it and I think this is the time in order to do that now they have other problems. I know they're not sitting back on their couch. They have other financial problems, but this is the time to now take what your crazy day was running around a bar. What orders are in, what inventory you have. Set it up from now till December. Set up your schedule. And that's what restaurant owner and bar owners need to be doing right now is to have that plan in play.

Bray: I think another big thing is too, we've talked about marketing the bar and marketing the establishment, but I think the bartenders need to market themselves as well because, like you said, there's a lot of people out there who are stellar, top notch bartenders in the industry. And if you've been laid off or if you're not going to go back to establishment, you want to start building yourself up on social media if you haven't already. If you don't have a Twitter or Instagram account, get one. Because this business is built on the people. They themselves, a lot of times become celebrities. They become known figures in the industry. And so if you're not there yet, now is a great time to start building that platform so that when you do apply for a job, the new bar establishment looks at that and says, Hey, this person's got a good following, I really want to bring them in.

ECRM: So maybe they could start doing videos of cocktails that they're making at home and building up that engagement so that when it comes time to choose between one and the other, you want the one who's going to bring their following into your bar. Not a somebody that nobody knows.

Sutley: And I think they're there. They're going to online seminars and stuff. I mean, we're working with some groups right now to put together some training programs for bartenders, food and beverage directors about how to elevate their cocktail knowledge and their style of bartending. I know that cause I see it, I'm on all of the social groups, the bartender social groups, they're all looking for training. They're not standing back and saying, hey, we just got knocked down and we're just going to wait to our bar opens up. They're using this time to watch videos on how they can elevate themselves. And that's only helping the establishment. They're either going to go to or the establishment they're going to go back to and, and help them you know, generate more revenue for themselves and for the bar. So training programs are key.

I know a lot of bar bartenders that are using Instagram, they have their own personal page and then they have their bar page that they build up and that is the page they post about where they're working. And those are the individuals you want to find that have a strong following. So I think that's a great move to really start looking at your staff and gang get ready to come out of the gates swinging. We have to be aggressive. This thing knocked us back. Now it's time for us to knock it back. 

ECRM: Definitely. So any parting thoughts? Ashley?

Bray: Sure. I think it goes back to what Art said. Don't sit back on your heels. One thing we did not mention that I want to make sure we get across. We have a page, our Covid-19 resources channel on the Bar Business website with all types of funds and aid. And I think that if you haven't applied for any of that yet, definitely look. The Bartenders Guild has a huge relief fund. The Cares Act just got passed by Congress, which has a lot of unemployment benefits, loans, things like that. So apply, because it can't hurt. You might not get it, but if you don't apply for it, you have no chance. And then other than that is prepare, plan, use this downtime that never happens in the bar industry. You're going 24/7, 365. Use it to plan and to do things that you haven't had time for in the past. So maybe less Tiger King and more education. I think if you haven't seen Tiger King, start there, and then the education. 

Sutley: So this is our time. The landscape changed on us, right? And what we're going to see coming coming out of this, this is our time to really have to talk to our local and our state governments in order to change, to allow us to change with the landscape. And that's going to be very, very important from a revenue standpoint. So I think we really need to all hunker down and be strong together through this, but also be fighting for our future, which is going to be a different future. Social dining, sporting events. So food and beverage sold through sporting events. That's all going to change. So I think we need to change and elevate together. And we can't do that very difficult because everything's set up in different States and everyone's got different rules, but we all have to have the same voice and we need to go to the same people in different States and fight for the same exact thing. So it becomes nationwide. So it's not that, hey, California in New York did it, but Florida, you know what, they don't get to do that. We need to, everybody needs this platform to change and we're going to need alcohol delivery and cocktail delivery to stick with us for awhile and hopefully moving forward. Maybe this jumps us into where we're, I thought we were going to be eight to 12 months from now. Maybe we're getting into it earlier, but we still got there and that's what we, that's what we need to be doing as a whole. And I think we're going to come out of this a stronger different group of hospitality people for sure.

ECRM: Thank you so much for your insights – I can't wait to get to hang out with you guys in person at one of our sessions. Stay Safe!



 

Sarah Davidson

SVP of Grocery
ECRM

Sarah Davidson is ECRM's SVP of Grocery, and can be reached at 440-542-3033

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