Updated: May 25
This interview is one of a multi-part series exploring the difficult decision of DC area restaurants to close their doors during COVID-19. For more on the series, read here.
While speaking with Amber Crowder and Melvin Hines, owners of neighborhood pub Wicked Bloom, one thing became clear: whether we like it or not, money matters. In the food and alcohol service industry in particular, money matters. Bartenders, servers, and other staff overwhelmingly live on tips. Without customers coming in the door they are left essentially wageless. Restaurants and bars themselves have overhead costs, and crisis or no crisis, for most of them rent is still due.
So yes, money matters. However, as Amber and Melvin reminded me, so does creativity and community. Check out their interview below.
Wicked Bloom remained open for takeout during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. How did the change in operations during that takeout-only period affect Wicked Bloom and its employees? We were initially closed to meet government recommendations. We did retool for a pop-up with limited days and hours to keep revenue coming in so we could help our staff.
After reopening for a short period of takeout-only business, Wicked Bloom ultimately closed as "there wasn't enough traffic to justify staying open." Compared to operations pre-crisis, before COVID-19, how much slower was business during this takeout only pop-up?
How did you have the discussion with your employees that you were closing? How did that go? We have had an open discussion with our employees throughout the entire process. Because we also own another venue (which has been able to stay open) we have been able to provide them with opportunities to work.
Could you talk about why your other venue, DCity Smokehouse, has been able to remain open and why Wicked Bloom closed?
Do you think the fast casual places that were well prepared and positioned to do carryout before this crisis were better equipped because of the way they were setup?
How do you think COVID-19 will change the small business environment in the DMV?
Unfortunately, everyone is not going to survive this. Landlords want their money, insurance companies want their money and businesses are not generating any revenue.
What do you think, as business owners, needs to happen to ensure the survival of as many local businesses as possible during this crisis?
In the context of this crisis, is there anything you think is really important to highlight?
Want to support Wicked Bloom's staff? Purchase a shirt from their T-shirt drive!