Grappling with the effects of Coronavirus, CHILLED asked a variety of bartenders, owners, and other hospitality personalities the same, pressing question: where does the industry go from here?

Paul Ramirez, Co-owner and head bartender at We Got Company, Brooklyn, NY: “Where we go from here isn’t one size fits all. Every survival story will sound different. We’ll have to use every ounce of our creativity and adaptability to concoct a formula to not only survive but thrive in an uncharted world. In the end, we’ll still be standing because we’re bartenders and that’s what we do.”

Noah Bush, Co-owner of Hodges Bend, Tulsa, OK: “The drinks scene has undergone changes that will last a very long time and the industry will have to adapt. To-go drinks, online wine tastings and virtual cocktail classes with your favorite bartenders will be in the mix for the foreseeable future and are proving to have staying power and we will continue to embrace them moving forward. I anticipate more emphasis on the in-house experience and one-on-one service, down to customizing drinks and preferences to fit the people coming in the door (virtually or otherwise).”

Tomoyuki Iwanami, Co-Founder of Kaikagetsu, Manhattan, New York: “Usually, you can retrace your footsteps and go where you wish by knowing where you were. But with this unprecedented occurrence, the back is as blind as the front. Hopefully during this time, we have had the chance to re-think what it means to be a part of a society and can interact with one another with respect and appreciation. The steps we take from now are not individual, but something we will take together.”

Tomoyuki Iwanami, Co-founder of Kaikagetsu, NY

Tomoyuki Iwanami, Co-founder of Kaikagetsu, NY

Jeff Berry, Owner of Beachbum Berry’s, New Orleans, LA: “Straws will definitely be making a comeback.”

Mark Stoner, Owner of Pony, Seattle, WA:(For clubs) I think dancefloors are over for a while, and the emphasis will shift to going out with a small group of friends and really just hanging out with that group at your own seating area. So, in a sense, (going to a club or bar) will be closer to what the restaurant experience is going to look like: fewer tables, spaced farther apart, and no crowd of people standing around the bar. Interior sound levels will also need to come down, so people can still talk with a face mask on and without being less than two feet away from each other. It’s not quite as fun and it’s not what we’re used to, but it will have to do for a while.”

Hospitality in the new normal

Hospitality in the new normal

Adam Koral, Co-owner of SHOREBar & partner at The h.wood Group, West Hollywood, CA: “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our relationships with the ones we love and the ones we come into contact with every day are extremely valuable. As an industry, we are tasked with providing experiences for our guests that they can not get at home. It will be up to us to find innovative ways to offer that same amount of fun and relief from the stresses of work, but with a more conscious approach (for) our guests. I really hope that the industry takes this opportunity to come together to help each other in what has already been one of the toughest conflicts we’ve all ever had to face.”

Daniel Cipriani, owner of JJ’s Hideaway, Brooklyn, NY: “We will survive this. As New York City independent restaurant and bar owners, we have always been forced to improvise, adapt and overcome obstacles to survive in the toughest markets in the world. We will make hard changes, find our rhythm and one day look back on this and have some great stories to guilt our children with. Stay healthy and positive.”

Daniel Cipriani, owner of JJ’s Hideaway, Brooklyn, NY

Daniel Cipriani, owner of JJ’s Hideaway, Brooklyn, NY

Chad Mackay, CEO of Fire & Vine Hospitality, Seattle, WA: “Reveling and celebrating life is our purpose and mission, so it is important that even while there are protocols in place to increase our physical distance, creating social connection is core to what we do. While it is important to find ways to make guests feel protected, we also need to create an exceptional service experience to ensure that they feel truly cared for and treated to something special.”

Chad Mackay, CEO of Fire & Vine Hospitality, Seattle, WA

Chad Mackay, CEO of Fire & Vine Hospitality, Seattle, WA

Oliver Goldsmith, Director of F&B at The Front Yard and The Garland, Los Angeles, CA: “We’re hoping licensing can be adjusted to continue to allow alcohol sales for off-premise consumption. We’ve seen great success since offering some of our most popular cocktails in mason jars to-go for guests to enjoy at home. While there are a number of pop-up companies attempting to fill the nostalgia of enjoying your favorite cocktail at a bar, most are not properly licensed to do so, and restaurants would be primed to fill this void. I also envision offering larger pours to minimize person-to-person contact.”

Brenda Riepenhoff, Bartender at Westlight at the William Vale Hotel, Brooklyn, NY: “The only way to go is forward. We must go back to a greater emphasis on hospitality, now that capacity will be decreased for the foreseeable future. We are entering a new era, so get ready to help, create and accept the new trends that develop.”

Brenda Riepenhoff, Westlight

Brenda Riepenhoff, Westlight

Photo by Amanda Suarez