They have survived dry days, the low turnout of customers, and low revenues. But restaurant owners say they have never seen anything like this in recent years. To them, they have just seen the worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, indeed, weakened the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry, 110,000 eating and drinking restaurants were forced to shut down. This is due to the restriction orders of the government. By the end of 2020, total sales in the industry were $240 billion below the forecast for the year. Their estimates also show that at least 8 million employees lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
This forced restaurants to explore creative ways to continue operations. Some restaurants are still surviving through to-go services and deliveries. But, bars struggled more due to temporary drinking restrictions.
Drinking Restaurants Get More Creative
Early last year, the government ordered certain businesses to stop operations. These include bars and other drinking restaurants. This is to prevent the spread of the virus in indoor areas where social distancing could be a challenge.
The study says that these activities can spread the virus through heavy breathing:
- Singing at karaoke parties
- Cheering at clubs
- Having conversations in bars
This is why bars are still advised to limit their operations and to observe safety protocols. Because of this, bars thought of ways on how to continue operations.
Here are some creative ways bars and restaurants thrived through the pandemic:
Early this year, 14 states approved measures allowing restaurants to permanently sell to-go cocktails. Unlike food, cocktails have a longer shelf life. This makes it perfect as a to-go item. Most to-go cocktail packages come in colorful Mason jars, plastic cups, and pouches. This allows family and friends to enjoy their cocktails even at home. Experts say that to-go cocktails will still be a trend even after the pandemic.
Personalized wine packages
Many wine cellars have shifted to selling online. A customer will contact them and inquire about the wine they prefer and how they want it customized. Due to limited interaction these days, customers send these packages as a gift. The package will be personalized according to color and style.
Live music and quiz nights
Some bars cannot accommodate as many guests, so they decided to bring the booze and the fun online. The band and the booze happen at the bar, but customers log in and join the party from their screens at home. Customers pay a ticket online to join quiz nights held by their favorite bars. This allows bar communities to still connect despite the pandemic. Some bars offer packages that come with quiz night tickets and to-go or delivered cocktail kits.
Are you going to the grocery to get your goods? Why not stop at your favorite bar and refill your mug? Some bars and pubs have been offering beer refills to the neighborhood. This way, people will not have to stop at the bar for long and leave once they get their refills. It works both ways. The bars get to see their stocks while customers can still enjoy their favorite beer at home.
With vaccinations already rolling, many states have allowed indoor dining. Bars and pubs across the country took this chance to adjust their space. Private rooms are now available to accommodate groups. Families and friends can still enjoy their favorite drinks while observing social distancing. Meanwhile, wine bars and cellars are still open for everyone for as long as safety protocols are observed. Other restaurants have websites or applications where their customers can book their visits to prevent crowding.
Reopening Means Back to Business
Continuing operations do not only mean business as usual for the bar industry. While it is an opportunity for them to get back the lost revenues, it also means employment. They get to hire back those who have lost their jobs over the year. They also get to order alcohol from their suppliers. The atmosphere might not be the same during the pre-pandemic days. But, it also means that the industry is slowly recovering.
Now that hotels and tourist attractions are reopening, the bar industry is hopeful that things will get better. They hope that they can get back the confidence of their loyal customers. Restaurants have been trying their best to put in place safety protocols. This is to reassure their clients that dining and ordering their favorite to-go drinks are safe.