Navigating the bar industry in COVID times

November 25, 2020

    As bars around the world have started or are preparing to reopen, what does the near future hold for the bartending business?

    Let’s face it, it’s going to take a while until “things get back to normal”. This is the new normal, and we’re going to have to adapt to this sanitized, socially-distant reality, at least for the near foreseeable future.

    Here’s how to turn adversity into opportunity and quickly get back to fulfilling your mission: to (safely) bring people together.

    Sidewalks, patios and rooftops: whenever possible, invest in an outdoor space

    Paris’s “ephemeral terraces”, allowing restaurants and bars to occupy large stretches of sidewalk and parking spots, have just been extended to summer 2021. Cars have given way to dozens of socially distanced tables in the French capital, and the locals couldn’t be more pleased. Employees Only Los Angeles has gone outdoors with their Summer Social Club, a socially safe mini pop up festival with curated food, drinks, art, games and more. In NYC, The NoMad has opened a new rooftop restaurant this September. These are only a few examples of how bars have been overcoming the circumstances and reinventing themselves. Try to see how your venue can adapt – putting a couple of tables and stools outside and/or offering cocktails to go is already a great start.

    Communicate on safety, cleanliness and social distancing to put your customers at ease

    If an outdoor space is not an option but your local legislation allows you to serve customers inside, go above and beyond to show your customers how prepared you are. People are understandably worried and need to be reassured. What does social distancing look like at your venue? What protocols have been put in place to ensure your staff, drinks and customers are protected and safe every step of the way? Once your audience sees that, they’ll let go of any reluctance they may have to start coming back to your venue.

    Delivery, to-go and ready to mix are here to stay

    Still, some customers might be too at risk to take any chances, while others would just rather continue to play it safe. And with this pandemic, we simply can’t know for sure what the situation is going to be like in a couple of weeks. So if you started making drinks for takeaway and delivery during lockdown, then continue doing so. If you haven’t, then we can only recommend that you start. Ready to mix cocktail kits have also been quite successful, so why not test that out with a couple of recipes and see how people react? There’s really no downside to offering these services, and you might even gain some new IRL customers who found out about you on social media or delivery apps.

    “Out of sight, out of mind”: now is the time to double down on your online presence

    People have been loving to take this time at home to learn new skills. Share some of your knowledge to get them inspired! Post about ingredients, spirits, cocktails, share some recipes and how-tos, have people and platforms share your content with their  own followers (time to network!), hop on Insta live… Hell, if you’ve got a good following, you could even organize a Zoom cocktail masterclass that people would pay to attend. Stay on top of your customers’ minds and you can be sure your bar will be the first place they’ll visit as soon as the occasion presents itself again.