The DC dining scene hasn’t reached the level of Atlanta at all – it’s like night and day. When I was in town a few weeks ago, I got to stop by Prost, where I used to work, and a few other restaurants. While I was thrilled that the dining rooms were open again and the team was fine, there is definitely not the same level of comfort for dining inside as there is in Atlanta. That means restaurants in DC really depend on the full functionality of their outdoor dining areas and keep driving sales on the go.
I have so much respect for the hospitality workers at the time – especially the bar owners. My family at Prost and a multitude of friends across the country are giving all they have. Now that I’m back at Gray Goose I have the opportunity to support various bars and restaurants that are trying to survive this unpredictable time. I think my current role will allow me to help the industry on a larger scale. As a beverage consultant, I could sometimes be very limited by the four walls of a particular restaurant or scenario. Although I was fortunate enough to have a lot of flexibility at Prost, that’s not always the case.
My team and I have created various programs and training courses to help industrial workers get back on their feet. We hold briefings on how to get access to financial assistance. We bring in financial advisors to share budgeting advice or hold live drop-in sessions where people can answer their finance-related questions. In the past, it was not easy or straightforward to get access to this type of information in the restaurant industry. Throw in a global pandemic, and many people have been and have been in the dark about how or where to get their next paycheck. Our team has worked hard to create a roadmap to fill that void and make the craziness of the pandemic a little more manageable for restaurant workers. Anything that can help employees get back on their feet and keep companies open their doors is really the primary goal. To that end, we’ve also compiled and distributed resources on a number of topics for bartenders to read for themselves. As a team, we constantly strive to keep the COVID-related support as up-to-date as possible so that industrial workers can come to us with questions at any time.
Other initiatives aimed to create mental health and general wellbeing outlets, with activities like virtual yoga classes, outdoor meditation classes, virtual painting and swallowing, and partnering with a local community garden to donate land for bartenders to grow can own product. So far, people who can attend these different sessions are excited to learn new things. In a way, virtual trading has actually allowed more flexibility and access to information.
We all deal with trauma in a variety of ways, and it is not only important but also necessary to find a good system of elimination and support. I hope to continue creating these opportunities for the hospitality community however I can, whether it’s an in-depth vodka class, a financial bootcamp, or just a virtual check-in with a martini in hand.