For the majority of our industry there is very little to be positive about. From restrictions to full lockdowns and from higher prices and lower spare cash for luxuries to the closure of beloved institutions just about every type of establishment in every corner of the world is struggling. Yet while some (understandably) retreat and lick their wounds or hunker down until a New Normal is established one of the fascinating things for any observer of our industry is how many bar owners and bartenders have ‘pivoted’ and either just got on with things as best they can or have explored entirely new avenues and revenues.
Bars have opened or reopened as retail outlets of some kind. Maybe they are selling newly created merchandise to allow regular patrons to continue to support their favourite bars in some way such ads the Dead Rabbit in NYC https://www.deadrabbitnyc.com/web-store . Or they have become the place to buy tools and the odd ingredients that normally only bars have to allow guests to be come home mixologists such as Amor y Amargo https://www.amoryamargo.com/pages/general-store . Or like others they have become grocery stores or mini markets using the contacts they had developed with food suppliers and produce suppliers http://www.fortdefiancebrooklyn.com/ . Some have done this just to survive while others have said they will make it permanent even once the Pandemic is over.
Others have taken advantage of relaxation in licensing laws to create and grow a take out/delivery cocktails business https://www.flyingdutchmencocktails.shop/, that not only supports revenue but also aids brand building or have create standalone brands that have started appearing on store shelves. Plus, this of course has been aided by some smart cookies who have created the infrastructure to bottle and can cocktails on behalf of others or run delivery services to compete with Doordash/Deliveroo.
Many have even gone further and now run online mixology sessions to show guests how to make drinks at home or the support the delivery cocktails – all of which increases engagement and is smart business. Or have built on the appetite for education and familiarity with receiving it online to set up Patreon accounts or even set up and promote Online learning systems https://shoshinartclub.com/ .
But I am not surprised by these moves as I have long preached that bars are the perfect environment for Entrepreneurs – those who see opportunity where others see barriers. At the large scale it takes a bold human to even get involved with bars and restaurants with their long hours, hard working conditions and traditionally poor return on investment. And on the tiniest level the bartender is the ultimate small business where someone pays he rent on their ‘shop’ (the bar) and pays for their stock (the ingredients) and they act as sales people taking a commission for their trouble.