How will social distancing impact bars?

Discussion in 'COVID-19' started by CervezaNY, May 22, 2020.

  1. CervezaNY

    CervezaNY Initiate (195) Mar 24, 2016 New York

    Quote:
    "Some bars and clubs say they won’t reopen until social distancing guidelines are withdrawn, citing the cost of operating with fewer patrons. Owners say they need to run at a higher capacity than many restaurants because drinkers typically spend less than those sitting down for a meal."

    From today's Wall Street Journal:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/bars-clubs-face-social-distancing-headache-11590143005
     
    Amendm, AlcahueteJ and seakayak like this.
  2. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (2,012) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    Seems like owners have two options. They either follow the rules in place or remain closed. I am not sure what other options they have other than breaking the rules and opening without restriction and taking a chance on losing their license. I know in AZ the Gov. said he would pull their licenses if bars did not listen to the rules. Not sure if that is lip service or will happen.
    Will be interesting to see what folks do.
    Cheers
     
    Amendm, AlcahueteJ and traction like this.
  3. traction

    traction Zealot (536) Dec 4, 2010 Georgia
    Society Trader

    There are multiple bars open in my state and I assume they are operating at a profit or they would close down. The one I went to a couple weeks ago had the tables and stools all set far apart from one another which is in line with state regulations. The bar I went to was pretty much the polar opposite of the videos of people standing shoulder to shoulder and yelling as seen in videos from other states. There are other bars in my area that have yet to reopen which I take as an indicator they cannot operate at a profit operating at less capacity. I expect a considerable amount of bars and restaurants around the country to never recover from this. Of course it is during this COVID-19 stuff that my local bar has a bunch of Parish and Bissell Brothers on tap which is a rarity down here.
     
    Amendm and Rocktire like this.
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,497) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Is there any discussion in Georgia about progressing into another phase with relaxed restrictions?

    I am in PA and I am in an area where we are in the 'lockdown' phase with is color coded as red. Many of the counties in PA are in the yellow phase. And at some point those counties will transition to the green phase. At this point in time I am uncertain exactly what these color phases mean as regards restrictions for bar operations.

    Cheers!
     
  5. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,100) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Foodservice veteran here. You make money on the shifts when the place is packed. If you have to limit your service by 50%, you're not making money. 50% capacity is a slow night in most places. Obviously has a lot to do with what rent, other overhead, and food/liquor cost is like. But if you are going to go to all the trouble of opening back up and if at most you're just breaking even, even if it's every night, it's not worth it. Results in some goodwill from regulars, and gives staff something to do, but tipped employees won't be making the money they expect, so...

    That being said, bars do have a lot of capital tied up in alcohol at any given time, and I could see a lot of folks looking to liquidate (pun intended) that as soon as they can to get some revenue coming in, and then only selling quick turnover items for a bit. I think that you won't see nearly as much in the way of high-end bottles (liquor, beer, or wine) for a bit once they sell out, folks are going to restock things they know will sell quickly. Might be a bump on wine or liquor when some places go out of business and their inventory goes to auction.
     
    Amendm, AlcahueteJ, Junior and 4 others like this.
  6. PA-Michigander

    PA-Michigander Meyvn (1,439) Nov 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    There is a vast amount of room between making a profit and shutting down entirely. Maybe losing $xxx per day/week/month is better than having zero revenue at all.

    Jack, have you seen the required metrics for a county moving to green? The last I knew, even the Governor was dodging that question because there was no set requirement for a county going from yellow to green, though that was days ago.
     
    Junior likes this.
  7. PA-Michigander

    PA-Michigander Meyvn (1,439) Nov 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    I'm curious at this. If your options are breaking even, while paying your employees, the bank, landlord and suppliers or shutting down and not being able to do any of that, how isn't breaking even the better option?
     
    Singlefinpin, Rocktire and denver10 like this.
  8. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,316) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    That's a lot of work for the owners to not make any money, breaking even isn't a win in any industry I've ever worked in and if I was consistently just breaking even I would be thinking hard about a new strategy
     
  9. traction

    traction Zealot (536) Dec 4, 2010 Georgia
    Society Trader

    It is kind of a mess down here in Georgia. Technically all bars were supposed to remain closed until 5/14 under an order signed by Governor but some bars never bothered closing down at all and that state wasn't enforcing the executive order so it wasn't really a mandate. The bars that are open now (in my area) all serve at least some kind of food so they are allowed the be open as a "restaurant" and operate under those guidelines despite 90%+ of the business being beer sales. Under the current executive order bars aren't allowed to open until 5/31 but as I said people are either flat out ignoring the executive order or adding food to their menu to classify themselves as a restaurant which are allowed to be open as opposed to places classified as a bar or a nightclub.

    Just in case you are curious these are the regulations a "restaurant" must follow:

    Allowing only ten patrons per 500 square feet in dining room, waiting area, bar area
    No self-service drink, utensil, or condiment stations
    Encouraging the use of disposable menus
    Discontinuing salad bars and buffets
    Thoroughly sanitizing tables and any other commonly used items by guests
    Using rolled silverware and no presetting of tables
    Limiting parties to no more than six people per table
    Encouraging reservation-only
    Posting signs at the entrance stating no one is allowed in the restaurant who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or a fever over 100.4
    Using contactless pay options when possible
    Providing hand sanitizer or additional hand-washing stations for staff and patrons
    Not allowing people to congregate in waiting areas
    Prioritizing takeout and delivery over dine-in service when possible

    Unless the executive order is renewed again essentially all businesses in the state will be allowed to open again on 5/31 which is one of the most aggressive re-opening schedules in the United States along side Texas. The Governor has given no indication that he is going to extend the executive order.

    Sure, and I am positive the business owners have factored that into their decision in whether to reopen or not. They certainly know more about their business models than I do.
     
    Amendm, AlcahueteJ and JackHorzempa like this.
  10. PA-Michigander

    PA-Michigander Meyvn (1,439) Nov 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    In perpetuity sure. I guess I read this as a short term decision. I’d rather break even for a couple months and then go back to whatever normal is/was. Also just walking away would be incredibly expensive to most business owners.
     
  11. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (436) Sep 1, 2004 New York


    Sure bar tabs are less than a full meal. That is obvious but also pointless. This is not a very good argument for increasing capacity in a bar. While it is true that a bar that operates at 50% is usually a failure, bars and restaurants are not the same business.

    • Liquor keeps forever, and even beer and wine can sit around for a good while before it needs to be moved. Produce, meat, bread, most everything in a restaurant has a very limited sell by date.
    • The mark-up and margin is very different. A small percentage profit margin on a meal is often enough to keep the business open, as long as there are enough meals. Bars have huge mark-up but are still dealing in in low dollar amounts and require a lot of patrons with relatively small bills.
    • Bartenders make dollars in tips. Servers make twenties. You can't expect a bartender to bother if they serve 25 pints and go home with $25 in tips.
    • Overhead is huge in the restaurant business. A bar has no kitchen to maintain, no grease trap, no kitchen staff, no exterminator once a month, no twice weekly dumpster. No daily deliveries. Etc. Two people can literally run an entire bar.
    • A restaurant with alcohol can make it because of the alcohol and would fail or break even if it were just food service. In fact many restaurants only get by with the liquor sales. That extra $300 to $500 three nights a week is huge for the owner. Bigger tips for staff too. Bars have nothing but alcohol sales to make it work, and must move product or die.
    So it is true that if bars must adhere to the guidelines set for restaurants they will be in trouble. But then again bars and restaurants are not the same. I suspect a lot of restaurants will be happy if they can open at reduce capacity while the tavern is shutdown. That's going to increase alcohol sales quite a bit.

    This does not mean bars magically get to fool the virus though. It's not selective.

    Cheers
     
    #11 billandsuz, May 22, 2020
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  12. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,930) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico
    Society

    My thoughts as well.

    Not a practical business model but in these crazy, and hopefully transitional, times I would think breaking even is a manageable option to get through this. Certainly not a loss right now, as going into the red would be if you just stayed closed and allowed the bills to keep coming in and that counts for something.
     
    laketang, PA-Michigander and Rocktire like this.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,497) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I have not seen any concrete discussion here; just red -> yellow -> green. Since I live in a red zone I am familiar with the strict restrictions in that phase.
    I read both yesterday's (Thursday) Philadelphia Inquirer and today's and I did not see a single article providing details on what exactly what it would mean to go "green". I have watched the majority of the Cuomo's daily news conferences and I am better educated on what is occurring in New York vs. Pennsylvania. Does Gov. Wolf conduct a daily news conference like Gov. Cuomo?

    The reason I asked @traction if there are plans for a phased reopening in Georgia was maybe bars would open now even if they are not making a lot of money since they want folks getting in the practice of coming to their business now with the knowledge that a few weeks from now (or whatever) they will be able to practice their business with lesser restrictions. Have something like 50% occupancy now but enticing folks (and more customers) to return in a few weeks in a more 'open' environment.

    Cheers!
     
  14. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,316) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I suppose it depends how long folks think this will be the functional reality (regardless of whatever rules are in place) but it can't be a very appealing prospect for bar owners
     
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,497) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    The below was posted less than 1 hour ago:

    “It is not clear what restrictions, if any, will remain in place in the green phase that Wolf may announce Friday. It is the least-restrictive phase of his color-coded reopening plan. Health officials have said they were working on guidelines for counties in the green phase.”

    https://6abc.com/reopening-pennsylvania-pa-philadelphia-green-phase/6202189/

    So, it appears that the government is still dithering here?

    Cheers!
     
    PA-Michigander likes this.
  16. Junior

    Junior Crusader (700) May 23, 2015 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I will not be drinking in bars/taprooms at full capacity right now. I'll stick with curbside for a while longer. It would be great to see some of the places that didn't offer many to go options before continue to include crowler/growler fills once they open back up.
     
  17. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,100) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Perhaps breaking even isn't the best way to put it.

    It's incredibly hard to run any customer service business. It's a work of passion. If you aren't coming out ahead, or don't foresee coming out ahead in the short term, why would you continue to do it if you think it could break you? Why not cut your losses and go back to what you did before all this happened? If you're a lifelong restaurant person, focus on a limited take-out option instead of bring on a 1/2 staff where you have back of the house standing around and front of the house bitching about not getting tips. At least there would finally be something like equality of pay between FOH and BOH.

    Especially when you consider the state of restaurants/bars before this all this went down There was a saturated market on places to go out. Break your own back to make it work, when the folks that have big money backers, deep pockets, and access to the best lawyers and accountants can get those PPP loans while you couldn't?

    You're treading water waiting for a tsunami nowadays waiting for things to get back to normal. Come fall or winter, we'll be in the same boat as we've been the past few months.
    I really hope that everything goes back to the way it was. But I don't see it. We all gotta duck when the shit hits the fan.
     
    AlcahueteJ, Junior and traction like this.
  18. Chipotle

    Chipotle Aspirant (203) Apr 23, 2017 New York

    The obvious solution is for bars to raise prices to accommodate the new business model and make adjustments as things change.
     
  19. traction

    traction Zealot (536) Dec 4, 2010 Georgia
    Society Trader

    Raising bar prices in a bad economy when many people don't even want to go out may not be a winning business model. It may work some places but beer prices at the bar are already considerably higher than bottle shop prices so if people can drink at home for cheaper while and the same time being safer not going to the bar seems like a decision many people would make.
     
  20. Chipotle

    Chipotle Aspirant (203) Apr 23, 2017 New York


    You're absolutely right and of course I've considered all that as well but really there's not much else to do. See what the customers are willing pay to drink at a bar. The other attraction of bars is to meet prospective dates. How's that work out with social distancing? Come to think of it bars are loud enough, now people will have to yell their conversations from six feet apart. Why the hell would anyone want to go to a bar? :rolling_eyes:
     
  21. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,930) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico
    Society

    At the onset, I bet there's enough cabin fever going on that people will pay more for the opportunity to get out and drink. Those not going out because of health concerns are likely not going to be a customer regardless of the price point.

    And once unemployment and the Cares Act extra funds start coming in, many will have some money to to throw around their communities. So far reports seems to suggest people have been largely responsible in how they have managed their refunds and money, but that has been done in the context of a "closed" world where there has been few temptations to spend money on. As things start opening up and people are again provided options, it will be interesting to see how people manage their funds then (er, now).
     
    traction and Chipotle like this.
  22. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,930) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico
    Society

    [​IMG]
     
  23. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    We’re on 50% of capacity here, it’s not ideal obviously, but treading water and breaking even at least keeps your servers and bartenders employed. At least your not falling behind, a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. Hopefully this transition period goes smoothly. Tough on the owners though.
     
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,497) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    There are a number of challenges here:

    Firstly, with millions of folks unemployed right now it would be difficult to "go back to what you did before" since there will be quite a bit of competition for jobs.

    The other issue is that owners of "customer service businesses" such as restaurants, bars, etc. were the people employing others (e.g., waitstaff, bus persons, bartenders, etc.) and if they decide to just call it quits not only are they out of business (e.g., unemployed) they are also putting all of their employees permanently out of their former jobs. If too many "customer service businesses" do not come back and start operating the economy will have an 'extra' hard time rebounding.

    Both for the owners and their former employees I sincerely hope there is a way forward for these many businesses to reopen. Collectively we all (customers, owners, employees) need for this to happen and hopefully more quickly rather than too late.

    Cheers!
     
    #24 JackHorzempa, May 23, 2020
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  25. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (281) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    @JackHorzempa dont you know from the other threads that we are supposed to be locked down until we have a vaccine or cure?
     
  26. BeerGeekExtraordinaire

    BeerGeekExtraordinaire Initiate (33) Mar 6, 2020 Illinois

    Using pickup lines is going to be hard as hell if you got to do it from 6 feet away. Good thing I don't have to worry about that any more
     
    dukeandduke, beerluvr and Rocktire like this.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,497) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    You just need to be creative. Maybe something like:
    • May I offer to cut your hair?
    • I have lots of toilet paper back at my place.
    • Do you like to eat meat?
    Cheers!
     
  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    They had a car race here locally yesterday, the stands were asshole to bellybutton and I didn’t see anyone wearing a mask. At this point in time this is a bit extreme imo, at the minimum they should have required everyone to have a mask. The Sheriff Dept is refusing to take any action. Hopefully it turns out well, we’ll know in 2-3 weeks. Prudent not paranoid, but that race crowd is asking for trouble.
     
  29. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (281) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    @nc41 it is ultimately their decision to not wear a mask, it will be their health if they are elderly or at risk. I’m all for opening up totally but I will continue to use common sense and just protect myself when it comes to situations like that.
     
    nc41 likes this.
  30. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (5,797) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    Bar’s & Restaurant’s in MN will not be allowed to open until 06/01. Then it will be outside
    /patio only, Tables to be 6 ft apart , masks for servers and staff,and reservations required for most. It will be tough and costly for many that have been closed or curbside only adapt to these new rules without a timeline in place to further lift restrictions.
     
    dukeandduke, Prep8611 and Bitterbill like this.
  31. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I agree to a point, but it’s still really early too, that guy at the race being caviler might be standing next to you on Tues morning at work, so it might not just affect him. Some stores here they post a sign masks must be worn, some don’t, I think it would have been prudent to require one though. Just my opinion, but to beat this we have to open up, we can’t win sitting in the basement like Biden.
     
    PA-Michigander and Prep8611 like this.
  32. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (2,012) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    AZ just allowed a cool deal in Chandler AZ. Downtown chandler bars/restaurants all allowed to let customers take food and drink into nearby park to enjoy if they desire. The council members passed rule allowing alcohol to be consumed in park now. So this is nice, helps places stay open and sell food/drink and people who feel unsafe can enjoy outside. I like this new deal, you should be able to drink outdoors as long as responsible.
     
  33. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (281) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I’ll give it a week before someone ruins it.
     
  34. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Just have to be creative, I’ve seen some restaurants here advertising alcohol to go, gotta bend some rules to help businesses at least tread water so they can hire back staff.
     
    JSullivan and AZBeerDude72 like this.
  35. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (2,012) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    LOL I know. But I do hope that does not happen. I really like the idea, and not just now it should be allowed all the time. I give the city credit for being a little open minded and allowing folks to do this, they scored some points with me.
     
  36. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (2,012) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    I have seen a few places allowing folks to stand out front with plastic cups and have drinks. Keeps people around, staff gets paid, and least it keeps money flowing. I like how folks come together to fix things, most want to be safe and also be out again.
     
  37. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    It’s why we sometimes can’t have nice things.

    I’m curious how the Jersey Shore is, they opened up the beach and boardwalks, if anyone ever been to Seaside or Wildwood they know the situation. The boardwalks are impossible to social distance, at high tide in some places there really isn’t all that much beach as well, that’ll be a challenge too. And you know after the coop up it probably exploded, fingers crossed.
     
    AZBeerDude72 likes this.
  38. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (281) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I don’t really care whatever Monarch Murphy thinks. Dude is a giant douche canoe.
     
    jgido759 and nc41 like this.
  39. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,405) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Any pics on the news about the beach? Really curious there.
     
  40. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (281) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    nc41 likes this.