Restaurant Diaries is a weekly series featuring four different people working in the industry. Every week you hear from one of them, from a line chef in Denver to a farmer in Winters, California. This week’s diary writer is Jenny Feldt, who recently quit her job as a bartender and beverage advisor to resume her role as brand ambassador for Gray Goose.
Getting moving during COVID isn’t exactly something I would recommend – let alone move twice – but when there’s a pandemic and you’re in control of so little, it seemed like the right thing for my health. I initially worked as a brand ambassador for Gray Goose in Atlanta, but last August the company took a number of employees on leave, including myself. When that happened, I decided to return to DC to work as a beverage advisor. So I came to idiot. It was nice to get back to my roots, train bartenders and create a drinks program.
The last few months at Prost have required a lot of thought. And with everything that happened in DC, we did things one day at a time. The indoor eating ban went into effect in early January. So, we had to find creative ways to promote take-away sales and improve outdoor seating. This is definitely a challenge when temperatures drop below freezing. Cocktails can help though, and we made sure to make Prosts three signature warm cocktails not just specials that hit menus from time to time, but ready to rock and roll whenever you want.
Even if you make drinks customers love, being a bartender is difficult during a pandemic. Understanding your guests, anticipating their needs, and getting a feel for what type of experience they are looking for is critical in the service industry. Everyone is different – some people want a super curated, personalized cocktail while others just want a beer, some food, and leave alone. But the only way to find out is by interacting with them.
Everything disappeared during the pandemic. I had to rely on waiters to get a feel for the guests and I only made cocktails according to my recipes. I still found ways to connect. I sent out handwritten notes with takeaway orders or wrote a story or story of the cocktail on the board to interact with customers in the simplest possible way.