It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
I'm afraid all this sitting home due to the pandemic has given me time to do too much thinking. Yes,
Bill, despite you often telling me "not to worry my pretty little head" about things I'm beginning to
think if our favorite bars ever reopen they will need a special plan. It won't and can't be business
The whole premise of a regular flu/virus season will be perceived differently by society now. So that
means every fall we’re going to get a reminder of this whole spacing element, I don’t think we'll see
400 people pack into a 2000-square-foot space for quite a while. I'm convinced that people,
including me, are not going to sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers so quickly anymore. Bar
stools will have to be spread more than a little bit apart. It will be wildly different since bars
traditionally have the densest seating and the customer mixing in the hospitably industry. But less
people means less revenue and that's not good if the bar wants to say in business.
I'm especially worried about pubs that have a clientele demographic of folks over 45 years old, I
think they’re going to be the most cautious of all about returning. I’m concerned they’re going to
disappear which in turn will make the pub disappear. Look Bill, I know you think deliveries will carry
the day for most of the taverns but I disagree. For example if a place does 100 lunches in an hour,
they cannot do 100 deliveries—it just doesn’t work that way. Or course they make sense and
maybe over time they’ll become a way of life, but I just don’t see take out/deflivers sustaining things
for the long haul..
I also worry that when bars reopen they will have to condense things to succeed. If a place had 40
taps of different beer and 30 brands of vodka, now they might have to cut back to eight or ten.
There won't be enough customers to carry a really big inventory. The same would be true for their
menus too. Everything is going to have to be much better controlled which means less of the
variety of offerings which is something we both enjoy.
To be honest when I start going to bars again not only will I worry about spatial awareness,I'm going
to be much more concerned about the cleanliness and sterilization surrounding the food and drink
preparation. What was the standard before the outbreak will no longer apply.
All this thinking has given me a headache. I'm going to the fridge for a beer and just hope for the
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
You've really depressed me. Here I was ready for things to return to normal soon and now
you've got me worried. I guess you're probably right that there will be a "new normal" and in turn
that might mean trouble for those small pubs and breweries we both love.
One thing for sure is that places will simply have to develop a more sterile environment. Every
inch of the bar and kitchen should be looking a lot more like operating rooms then they do now.
The day of the two sink quick glass wash is over. I think even how workers dress will change.
The less than clean t-shirts and "street" clothes worn by some bartenders, servers, and cooking
staff will be gone. I also think everyone from customer to owner will be wearing a mask for a lot
longer than anyone, even the conservative Dr. Fauci expects..
Bar owners are going to have to rethink even the smallest gestures. Gina, in the past neither of
us thought anything about a bartender picking up a sterilized glass from a drain board and
handing it to someone. I think now that might make us, or at least me, a bit uncomfortable.
Everything from how our beer is poured and served to how items are handled after sanitation
will be seen as safe or dangerous by customers
I see technology being as one likely solution to all our safety concerns not bartenders, chefs, or
severs. Technology is sterile, human beings are not. I'm not sure what devices will be used.
Maybe it will be as simple as every bar having a visible dish washer or as sophisticated as ultra
violet germ killing lamps or temperature taking portals.
I'm guessing that many of the changes made for safety will be unseen—in kitchens and cold
rooms and brewing processes which are typically out of sight of customers. No matter what they
are it’s important that establishments communicate what they’re doing to keep us safe. For
example Gina, I just saw a restaurant’s social media post depicting its chef cooking a dish that
would be available for curbside pick-up. He was in street clothes, not wearing gloves and did
not have a face mask. “That’s exactly the message that I don’t want my pub sending. If I don't
feel the place is as concerned about my safety as I am then I'm not going.
The bottom line is not that bars were doing anything wrong before—it’s that owners need to
engender confidence in their establishments and processes to meet elevated consumer
demands and perceptions. Gina, there's no way we want the doom and gloom predictions that
we could lose 30-40% of breweries and pubs to come true. I'm convinced once consumers
have confidence in their safety they'll be back in droves to the reopened bars.
Now I've got a headache. i hope I didn't catch yours. I should have worn a hat along with my
mask when I was writing this.
Here's looking at you, Gina.