Restaurants & Bars | August 1, 2020 3:30 pm

Pandemic Turns Breweries, Strip Clubs and Bars Into Restaurants

Stories of resourcefulness amidst mixed signals from the government

beer glass overflowing under the tap
Have customers returned to bars and breweries?
JMacPherson/Creative Commons

Running a bar or a brewery can be a challenge even in the best of times. Trying to keep one open during a pandemic — when indoor bars can be particularly dangerous for spreading COVID-19 — can make things exponentially more difficult. What if the easiest way to keep your bar running was to turn it into something else entirely? In a new article for The Washington Post, Tim Carman explores how breweries, bars and strip clubs have been weathering the pandemic by transforming themselves into restaurants.

It’s an understandable decision for many of them. Why? Because some state regulations treat bars and restaurants differently, keeping the former closed and the latter open.

For some of the establishments mentioned in the Washington Post‘s article, shifting their business model means building out kitchen facilities. For others, it involves more dramatic changes to the business model, including ending bar seating and creating a more complex menu. Carman writes that this is largely emerging from a need to survive:

If it sounds like some bar and club owners are gaming the system at a time when Americans should be more concerned about public safety than business survival, proprietors will tell you that they’d happily shut down if they could afford to. If their landlords would forgive all or part of the rent, or if they could secure federal bailout money to last for months.

Alternately: some may see this story as being about resourcefulness. For others, it might point to the flaws in the nationwide response to the epidemic — and the difficulty that many have had making ends meet as a result.

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