The Covid-19 crisis is changing the drinks industry in profound and complicated ways, from driving huge growth in online ordering and delivery platforms, to relaxing laws regarding the sales of alcohol and normalizing public drinking in parks and city streets. Some historians speculate that society will come out of this period with a new outlook and perhaps even a cultural renaissance, as was the case after the 1918 flu epidemic. But at a minimum it seems likely that some of these sudden changes will linger on even after social distancing and isolation rules have been relaxed.
That’s the topic for this week’s VinePair podcast, where Adam, Erica, and Zach discuss which changes to the world of alcohol they expect to stick around, and what further changes might be coming in the months ahead.
LISTEN ONLINE OR CHECK OUT OUR CONVERSATION HERE:
Adam: From Brooklyn, New York, I’m Adam Teeter.
Erica: From Connecticut, I’m Erica Duecy.
Zach: And in Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.
A: And this is the VinePair podcast. Guys what is up? It’s four weeks in!
E: That’s hard to believe.
A: Wow, four weeks… I don’t think anyone thought this was gonna be lasting four weeks.
E: And it may be going for many more weeks.
Z: I mean, we have a stay-at-home order in Washington State through at least May 4th, so we’ve got basically 3 [or] 4 more weeks at a minimum, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t extend it after that.
A: It’s just… it’s crazy. I mean, I’ve been drinking a lot more, I’ve been baking… I’m gonna come out of this looking like a potato.
E: With a bad haircut, I’m sure!
A: Yeah! Like, it’s just….
Z: Well, I will tell you as someone who is balding, this is really bad. Because I’m not at the stage yet in my life where I’m willing to go… like just straight “Bic it” and shave my head entirely. [So] I rely on a relatively regular haircut to keep the hair I do have looking relatively organized, and it’s getting bad. I fortunately was able to [get] a haircut shortly before the stay-at-home order came out, so we’re only about a week past my due date now, but in another month? You might see a lot fewer selfies on Instagram, that’s all I’m saying.
A: I [made a] big mistake and last weekend [and] was like, I don’t know man, I’m seeing like a lot of people go clean-shaven. I forgot what my face looked like without some hair on it, I’m gonna clean shave. And then I came out of the bathroom and my wife was like, “I don’t wanna look at you.” It was so bad, she’s like, “You look like you’re five, it’s not the look I’m going for. Like please don’t ever do this again.” And then I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like yeah, I really actually do hate it. Like my face doesn’t look good without some facial hair on it. It was weird.
E: Yeah, I told my husband that he has about a week left before I’m getting in there with the scissors and I’m just gonna have to do some work cause it’s starting to get pretty shaggy.
Z: Yeah, it’s rough.
A: I agree with you Zach, like a week before this all started like I went and got a haircut. And I was like, “cool, at least I got that haircut, ‘cause my hair will start getting long and then it starts to curl.” And so it’ll start to like…it’s just not a good look. So it’s good that we’re keeping it where it is. But uh yeah, I mean this thing, who knows, I mean… it’s just crazy, it’s just really crazy. But I thought we would take the opportunity to be at the four-week mark, to talk about… some ideas that have come out of not only the coverage that we’ve been doing on the site, but also some of the conversations we’ve been having in the “Covid Conversations” [podcast]. You know, mini-episodes that have been running every day. If you have been listening to those episodes, by the way, we’d love to know what you think. Drop us a line at email@example.com, we’d love to hear sort of what your thoughts are. If there’s anyone that we haven’t spoken to that you think we should, [or] if you are someone you think we should speak to, also reach out. We’d love to talk to as many people as possible and get as large a picture of what’s happening in the total alcohol beverage industry as we can. But yeah, I mean we ran a piece this week – everyone’s gonna listen to this podcast Monday – about […] these historians, especially the one at Yale, whose name now slips my memory but I’m sure Erica you know it….
E: Um yes, but I’m trying to think of what her last name is though. Give me one second and I will tell you.
A: OK, cool. [The historian] has connected a lot of what happened after the 1918 pandemic and then the rise into the Roaring Twenties, as in innovation, etc. to potentially where we could be now. And then also we’ve had a lot of really great interviews where I think people have sort of said similar things. They wonder [if there] is going to be a behavioral change in terms of whether or not we start buying more alcohol online. Like, will people who have downloaded Drizly and Minibar for the first time keep them on their phones now and continue using them post-social distancing? I think Stephanie Gallo made a really good point, that their research shows that it takes 6 to 8 weeks for someone to start a new habit, right? So right now we’re at four weeks, if there’s something that someone started four weeks ago it’s only gonna take two more weeks potentially to lock them into that habit. Whether that be drinking wine at dinner every night now. You know I think what Mike said, the bartender from LA about restaurants in general learning more about what their license actually did allow that they never knew before, which I also thought was fascinating in that interview, is really interesting. So for us, I thought we’d have a conversation of like what behaviors do you think, now that we’re four weeks in, will be with us post-quarantine? We can have this conversation maybe again in four more weeks when we’re still in quarantine, but for now what behaviors do you think will probably still be with us even when we come out of all this?
E: I’ll jump in and [say] that professor who we we’re referring to [is] Jessica Specter; so she’s a Yale University professor, and what we were talking to her about is how the parallels between the 1918 flu pandemic and the Roaring Twenties, and this huge period of innovation that followed and cultural renaissance of sorts are actually intertwined in ways that are overlooked. So that is an article that we’ll be referring to probably as we’re discussing here some different ideas. You know, I think one of my biggest takeaways right now about how things will change from a liquor store/retail perspective is, you know there are so many people who before-hand they loved FreshDirect or Instacart or what have you, and that was just a regular convenience that was part of their life and I think a lot of them just didn’t know that they could do alcohol delivery in that way. But now that they do I think that it actually will lead to a huge change in the way that people interact with retail stores. So I think there’s a pretty big part of the population that may never set foot into a liquor store again and may just move onto online ordering completely.
Z: Yeah I certainly think that’s quite likely, and I think that the whole convenience that has been born out of this whole quarantine time really will be a thing that is a continued kind of motivation for a lot of people. So the idea that, you know in this period of time when you can only get, or for a lot of people you can only get things delivered to your door, or at least it’s considered unwise to go out to the store more than necessary, we’ve all gotten used to the groceries or whatever showing up at the doorstep. And while some people may enjoy the return to browsing and maybe in some other fields that will be the case, but I think with food and especially with drink you’re right Erica, I think a lot of people are just gonna say “I know what I want, why would I go to the store when I can place an order…” You know I think a lot of what we’re gonna see about it too is a lot of people moving to the sort of reservation mindset in general where you make a reservation for something to be delivered or maybe for you to go pick it up and it’s just waiting for you. Again, this idea that we don’t have to have…. you know, we have the technology now to kind of create all of this convenience and I just think few people are gonna wanna go back to a less convenient era.
A: I think you’re right. I think the other thing that’s really interesting is, unlike grocery delivery where you do have… I would say there’s a larger group of people, when you look at consumers of grocery or food compared to consumers of alcohol and I know we talked about this before, there’s a larger group of people who like in food going to the butcher, going to the produce market, having a conversation and picking out that tomato or picking that steak. But in terms of alcohol, we know based on research prior to Covid-19, the vast majority of casual wine, spirits, and beer consumers felt incredibly intimidated shopping for alcohol. And part of that intimidation was the interaction with the person at the store, right? But now, I think they’re realizing, “Oh, I don’t have to have that interaction at all,” right? So now, I can go online, I can do my own research, whether I read VinePair or I ask some friends, I can then look for that wine and see if it’s available digitally and get it delivered and it feels a lot more… you know I feel a lot more comfortable with it than being tripped up if I have that conversation with someone to say, “well I’m sorry I’m looking for this specific winery’s Merlot,” let’s say. And then the person says to me, “Oh, well we don’t have that Merlot, but we have this, we think you’ll like it as well,” and then you start getting really nervous like, will I like it? Do I trust this person? Do I trust their taste? Right? And I think we will see more people saying, this was just a hell of a lot easier and I avoided that interaction completely.
E: Yeah, and for drinks lovers like us I think that feels really sad…
A: It does.
E: One, because we love liquor and wine stores, but two, what about discovery? What about discovering new products? That, I think that is going to be a huge challenge for any sort of producers is, how do you now get the word out effectively if people are going this sort of convenience route, they’re ordering the same bourbon they like, they’re ordering the same Chardonnay they like, and they’re not really taking risks because no one is kind of giving them that hand sell?
Z: Ah! But see here’s where my additional idea comes in and I’m especially curious, Adam, about your thoughts on this because it ties into the music industry. So I think they’re a lot of people who when streaming audio, streaming music, came around said, “Oh, but you know if you can just listen to the same songs you already always loved, why will you ever discover anything new?” And what we found is that all these, you know, the streaming services created algorithms to sort of derive from your playlists and the things you like, suggestions – some of which are good, some of which are bad. And if you’re like me and have a small child and some of what you listen to on your playlist is kid’s music, you get a really, really fucking weird set of songs if you just play your daily/weekly mix. But, what I think you’re gonna see happen is, you’re going to see more synergy between let’s say the alcohol-producing companies and distribution companies and delivery services and potentially, and I’m not spoiling anything I don’t think, I don’t think that this is actually happening, but someone like VinePair. Where in the future you might be able to access the top 25 rosés list that VinePair’s putting out from whatever app and you can say “here are VinePair’s top 25 rosés, which one do you want? Here’s maybe even the write-up.” Now, I don’t know that that will happen but I think you’re gonna see more and more of this discovery come from people who are able to connect their own… whether they’re a journalist or a sommelier or a bartender or whomever, they are able to basically to create essentially a “drinks playlist,” or a drinks list or whatever you wanna call it, and instead of necessarily getting those recommendations from them in person, they’re able to send that out to an entire region, nation, whatever and say, “Hey, you like me, you follow me and every week I’m gonna recommend five wines.” And I think there’s a lot of potential for that and I think that’s one thing that we’re starting to see come out and I think you’re gonna see a hell of a lot more of it.
E: OK, but here’s my challenge. I have a challenge to this, which is: How is that different than James Suckling’s notes? Or anyone else’s notes that are already out there? That are then incorporated into some of these apps already? Like what’s the difference?
Z: I think the difference for me is you… with those things you’re getting about a… you’re getting a score and you’re basically getting that score highlighted on the platform. But I think this is a little more about following… like, what if you could follow essentially Lebron on whatever this app is? Or you could follow us, or someone else in between? And get recommendations and maybe there’s some sort of, you know commission-based system that encourages people who are trendsetters to have their presence on these platforms? I mean look, I’m just a sommelier and a dude who does a podcast, I don’t know all the back end of this, it may not be an idea that works. But I do think that, you know part of the difference is, is that you know with someone like a critic like James Suckling, I mean there are definitely people who just essentially do this already, they just take his scores and go to whatever you know wine shop or online retailer and this to me is just a little bit more streamlined and that may or may not be a thing that matters to people. But I think it’s one way to think about still having the opportunity for discovery. Because you know, as much as we said before that… and I think it’s true that there will be some people who will be even more locked into their already existing purchasing decisions, I think that those people were gonna do that no matter what. I think for people who like discovering new things, this is just gonna be a new way to do it and if you can marry that with convenience that’s actually maybe for a lot of people like Adam was saying, a lot less intimidating than walking into a wine shop and talking to someone you don’t know and getting their recommendations. You know, here you could follow someone who you like from either the field of alcohol or some other field and get their recommendations and you know, whether they’re better or worse than the guy or gal in the wine shop I can’t say but I do think this is something we’re gonna see.
A: So I think I agree with both of you partly. So I think Erica actually has a very valid point here, and I think that for the most part the people who do run for convenience, right? So the person I guess… that typical person I was thinking of, that like they just… they know they like bourbon or they know they like Merlots or Cabernets, etc. that’s really… they’re not totally into complete exploration, they just know what they like and they don’t like the buying practices now, I think they’re going to run to online and I think some of these bigger, more well-known wineries, distilleries, etc. are going to benefit. I think it’s going to be not great in the short-run, especially if we enter a recession, for the smaller brands in the beginning. But, I do think as well, there are going to be people in markets that loved to discover things that didn’t think they had a lot of variety, who have now recognized they can order from wine shops outside of their own state, who will keep doing that, and that will benefit some of these boutique producers. So… my sister-in-law, had the Pennsylvania state liquor authority not shut down their stores, she never would have realized she could order from Astor, cause she never would have, it never would have crossed her mind. Right? She knows that she can go down the block…
Z: That’s Astor Wine & Spirits – for those of you who don’t live in New York City.
A: Right, sorry. So now she knows she can, and Zach to your point, she does like the Staff Pick wines and she likes the notes the staff writes about the wines. She finds it more interesting, they also… the prices are better and I think she’ll continue to be an Astor customer.
A: Because she didn’t have that in Pennsylvania, right? So she will but I think that someone else, you know maybe her next door neighbor wouldn’t do that. Right? She’s just gonna be like, well I realized I can still… I can just order bulk you know, I don’t know name-a-cult Napa Cab, right? I can just, I can order that and I’m just gonna keep ordering that and I’m not gonna explore. So I think you’re gonna see it sort of benefit both but I do think in the short term the more likely scenario or who sees the most benefit is gonna be what Erica’s saying. ‘Cause you’re seeing it now, right? You’re seeing most consumers like to run to these well-known producers. Run to these well-known craft brands and I wonder, you know… and at least for now that’s the majority of what you do find on a lot of these apps, right? If you go on Drizly or Minibar you’re not finding really great craft whiskey or really great small-production wines.
Z: Uh I think that depends a little bit where you are. I mean I think If you look at… a lot of it, ’cause I mean they partner with liquor stores and what not and wine shops and if you are… if they’re partnered in your market with a shop that stocks a lot of interesting stuff, like they happen to be in Seattle, then you can actually get, I mean, I was surprised looking at it, I can get stuff that’s actually really hard to find in a lot of liquor shops.
Z: Delivered here, yeah. Some more, a little bit esoteric Japanese whiskey and stuff like that. I mean it’s not cheap, but that stuff never is. But again it really just depends on where you are and there are… the selection isn’t always consistent and sometimes it’s really deep in one category and a little bit hit-or-miss in others, but again I think that’s where this idea of, you know, if these things become more connected to people and entities that would promote discovery and learning about new product, there might be impetus for some of these apps or a new app that doesn’t exist or whatever to tap into that market. Because well, you’re right, obviously the big brands are gonna dominate and they’ve dominated, they dominated the pre-Covid landscape too, you know they’re on every grocery store shelf and all that. They’re gonna continue to dominate, but we’re… I think we’re mostly interested in talking about some other subset of consumers for the most part because they’re the ones whose shift from in-person purchasing to online purchasing is going to be impactful to yeah, these small brands. And if they are able to continue to discover and find new things and just move that online I think a lot of them are gonna appreciate the convenience.
A: I agree. So OK, let’s keep it rolling here, cause I think we’ve beaten the online ordering to death for now. One of the things I’m gonna be very curious to see and I was talking to Josh about this a week in, is Josh… you know my co-founder at VinePair, was walking through the park with his dog in Madison Square Park in Manhattan and saw this couple sitting on a bench drinking to-go Dirty Martinis they had bought from The Smith. And he basically was the first one to say this, he was like, “There’s no way we’re puttin’ this back in the bottle.” Like people have now realized they can go and buy really great cocktails from some of their favorite restaurants, but it’s a beautiful day and they don’t want to sit in the dark bar and drink at the restaurant and they were out at the park with their dogs, at the dog run drinking these Dirty Martinis. And I do think you’re gonna see, not all states, but some states especially in the short term because we’re gonna need to help these places continue to survive, just really kind of start pushing the to-go cocktails. What do you guys think?
E: I totally agree. Yeah I mean I think that, I mean look at… look at New York City restaurants, there’s something like a million in the service industry in New York City alone that are out of jobs. So when you see these restaurants and bars really start up full force I think there will be so much pressure on the local and state governments to help support them in any way possible. To help re-invigorate these businesses. And I think what that looks like is some standalone, ready-to-go offshoots, some delivery offshoots, pick-up offshoots from some of these bars and restaurants. You know in the article we just did about the 1918 pandemic and the Roaring Twenties, one of the interesting points that Derek Brown said to us was, you know there is actually an innovative new concept called Ready to Drink in Shanghai that Daniel An, who is a really well known Shanghai bar owner, that he started recently. And he calls it a mix between a Cinnabon and a cocktail bar. Which serves up these pretty packaged cocktails, so like a Shanghai Mule or a Coffee Negroni and also fruit juices that people can spike with like jalapeño-infused tequila, things like that. And that these are all ready-to-go, sort of… it’s a ready-to-go concept, that’s the entire concept. And so I think that type of thing may be something that we see as people, as you know, establishments are thinking like “hey, maybe I can’t just only be on-premise moving forward.”
Z: For sure, and I think actually there’s two interesting parts to what Adam was describing and what you were following up on, Erica. One of them is this thought of to-go cocktails and sort of a brand around them and we… Adam and I did a podcast a while back about canned cocktails. And at that point we were talking about them as products that were made in essentially, you know, some sort of factory-type setting and what I wonder is if we’re gonna see a rise of essentially commissary bars. So instead of a commissary kitchen where you have a catering operation or even a sort of fancy take-out operation, I wonder if we’re gonna see sort of commissary bars or even shared bar spaces open. Because I do think that one thing that’s gonna be interesting especially in the short to medium term after these social-distancing and really extreme quarantines are over, is I think people are gonna be a little bit hesitant to go back into bars. I think you’re gonna see people not necessarily wanting to be in crowded spaces with strangers, but they’re gonna want really good cocktails as they do now. And I think you’re gonna see some existing bars, and maybe some new ones, open in a space that’s really mostly dedicated to cocktail production as opposed to cocktail service. And I think if you can, you know especially introduce some of the technological innovations that you’re seeing whether… that Adam talks about in his upcoming interview with Mike Capoferri from Thunderbolt in Los Angeles, like vacuum-sealed cocktails, canning cocktails on site, those kinds of things are super interesting to me and if you have a commissary bar, essentially that can deliver, or you know produce and deliver or send out for delivery these kinds of drinks, I think that’s a way forward for some of this industry, especially for this medium-term period where I think getting people to go back in closed spaces is tough.
Z: The other thing I wanna mention real quick is I also think we are going to have to reconsider our public drinking laws.
Z: And open container laws in most of the country.
Z: Because I mean it’s nice in Seattle right now, and my wife and son and I were walking through the local park with our dog a couple of nights ago and there were probably 15 groups of people scattered throughout the park and all of them were drinking.
A: Oh yeah
Z: And you know that to some extent happened anyhow, but it was much more in the open than it had been you know… not, you know, people were just drinking straight out of cans of beer, bottles… they had bottles of wine out, you know no one was trying to hide it and I just think we’re gonna see, in the same way that there was, you know, to reference this piece that was written last week, in the same that there was a lot of social permissiveness that came out of the real, you know, sort of “we-may-all-die-anyhow”-sense of 1918, you know I think for a lot of us it’s gonna be like “well, why is drinking a beer in a park actually that big a deal?” Like does it… I mean, they do it all over Europe, no one… and it’s not an issue there. You know they do it in parts of this country and it’s not mostly an issue, like why shouldn’t I be able to have a glass of wine or a beer or whatever in public as long as I’m not making a scene?
A: Right and I mean I think that that’s… you know basically what you’re saying which could be really interesting to see is like so you know in my neighborhood of Fort Greene there’s this beautiful park, Fort Greene Park and you… there are a few sort of smaller spaces on the park that as of right now I think you know… it’s like a tiny coffee shop of something. You could easily see if the laws loosen, a cocktail bar open, in which the majority of their business is selling those cocktails to-go for people to drink in the park.
A: You know? And you see that… you see that all over Europe. You have not seen that here until this last month. And you’re right, I mean the amount of people that I see in the park on Friday and Saturday and Sunday afternoons who socially distancing are with their significant other or their family or whatever and they are having a bottle of wine and it’s pretty brazenly open has changed dramatically in the last four weeks. Everyone used to do it but very discreetly, now I think everyone’s just like “Fuck it”.
E: Yeah, genies’ out of the bottle, I don’t think it’s going back.
A: I don’t either. What else do you guys think is gonna stay post-this Corona quarantine.
Z: So this is not necessarily about the production side, so this is more personal habit side, but I do wonder as people who are not necessarily ordering to-go cocktails or they’re in a place where that’s still not doable, as it is in some states and what not, I wonder if you know this is gonna be a sort of return to the era… we’re gonna see a return to the era of the cocktail party. And not that those didn’t happen previously, but again to make another connection to the piece that ran on VinePair, you know it wasn’t just speakeasies but in part because of Prohibition, you know drinking was basically either in private, either in, you know, sort of these underground clubs, or in people’s homes if you could kind of, you know, hide it well enough I guess, I don’t know how much scrutiny was paid to people who… what they were doing in their own home. But I do think that you know if people are coming out of this period of quarantine having, you know, learned a lot about how to make even relatively straightforward drinks like a Manhattan, which I think a lot of people like Manhattans but a surprising number maybe didn’t know how to make them until the last few weeks. I do think you’re going to see that sort of return to like, “Oh well, you know, maybe we don’t wanna go out to a bar, but we do wanna drink with friends, and we’re gonna have them over and you know what? We’re gonna make cocktails.” You know, the way that American entertaining really functioned in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, right? People came over and drank cocktails. They didn’t drink wine, for the most part, you know, maybe if they were having dinner. And I do think we might see a return to the cocktail party as a real thing. And I’m not sure if I’m super excited about that or not, it’s pretty easy to get real wasted at a cocktail party, but I think that’s something that will stick around is the sort of home bartending that had largely gone away in a lot of places.
E: Yeah, I mean I think that if you look at the traffic on our site, for example, a lot of the most popular articles are about those cocktail projects that we’ve been discussing, you know ways to up your cocktail game so… people are investing a lot of time in this. I mean, they’ve got a lot of time, what else are they gonna do, you know? There’s only so much Netflix you can watch. I think this… they’re going to have all these new skills and they’re gonna want to share those like in real life with their friends. So I do agree that it’s going to come back and I do also have that same hesitation as you do, which is all I want to see them do right now is go to bars and restaurants. I mean I think one of the interesting points in the article that a social psychologist made was: You know, if we take the gas off this social distancing and we go back to bars and restaurants too quickly and then there’s a second wave of infections and a second spike, then people actually may be in the long term more reluctant to go back to bars and restaurant with the frequency that they did before. And that is one of the things that concerns me greatly right now.
A: Right, will we see an immediate run back and then all of a sudden boom, you know… I think it could be bad.
Z: Well and I think that’s why we need to be kind of cautious. I know, like you said, I mean as a person who at least normally works in restaurants on this podcast I definitely, you know, part of me wants to see people go back to the way things were right away. But I agree very much with that concern that if there’s sort of too rapid a retreat from social distancing and people are suddenly like “Ah, whatever!” and we get another wave of this that’s as bad or even nearly as bad or worse… I yeah, I think the long-term effects will be much, much, much harder on the industry than if we come back slowly, we sort of say, “OK, we’ve gonna try and tip-toe our way back in and maybe we open with tables further spaced apart, maybe we don’t pack people into bars and nightclubs, maybe we just sort of say look we’re gonna tip-toe into this,” with the goal of getting back to a pre-Covid sort of normalcy in a year, as opposed to trying to do it in three months. That’s probably better long-term, although it’s hard to say.
A: Yeah, well so here’s the deal. This actually was brought up, a bunch of people were talking about this on this group chain of a bunch of like CEOs and things like that, and it’s a very interesting thing to puzzle. And that is… and it is why I think ultimately the at-home cocktail party will be the norm for the next year. So unless this comes down from the federal government, which we don’t know if it will, if we… when we re-open, if Zach, you open a restaurant and I go to your restaurant in the next few months and I get sick, are you liable? Uh, what if it’s someone who was on your kitchen crew? Or what if it was one of your wait staff or what if it was a somm? Or what if it was just a random customer? But you just didn’t know because they didn’t present symptoms? But then I get sick and then I spread it. Or someone has a big event. Or there’s a huge concert and someone gets sick? And these are the conversations people are having right now because no one knows.
A: Right? Like we don’t know and we don’t know what everyone’s liability is going to be and the insurance industry has not been super helpful recently, as we all know.
A: Right, but so… but so until we also understand that I think there’s gonna be a lot of trepidation amongst both business owners and consumers to go back and forth because you kind of need to know, OK., well what does happen? Like is it on me? Are we basically saying well, you’re putting yourself at risk? ‘Cause if you’re doing that, then you’re basically saying to restauranteurs, only people that are confident and feeling comfortable are gonna come to you, because we basically told them as a society – it’s at your own risk. Like when we say you can swim at a beach without a lifeguard. Or are we saying no, it’s gonna be on the establishment, they have to implement social-distancing measures and they have to be checking the customers and if they don’t, it’s on them. And then what risk are they taking on? So it’s gonna be really crazy to see, which is why like at least at a… you know a home gathering like, unless you have a lot of asshole friends, if someone shows up at your house and gets sick, they’re probably gonna be less likely to go after you…
E: And how are they gonna know where they got it anyway?
E: I mean that’s just… that’s the craziness of it.
Z: Well, and I think the other part is, the challenge for bars and restaurants in particular is, it’s not, it’s like it’s an environment where you can really easily social distance, you know? You can’t wear a mask while you drink a cocktail and it’s hard to imagine a lot of New York City restaurants with tables 6 or 8 feet apart. You know, that’s… most of them could only fit 3 tables if that were the case and so I think that it is really… yeah, you’re right. The liability side is something I’m not qualified to talk about other than that yes, it is definitely a conversation that’s come up even with, you know, sort of small operators that I’ve talked to. They just… no one knows and everyone is gonna be eager on the one hand, because they wanna get back to what they love to do and what they do to make money and all that, but on the other hand like there’s still so many pieces to this that we don’t understand and that’s why I think for the purposes of this conversation we really focused on delivery, at-home, non-shared space changes that have come about and that may persist for a while if not forever.
E: And you know, I think the last thing is… I just, it’s kind of like the PS of this whole thing. When I think about those socially distanced tables at restaurants and bars, there is just no way. Margins are thin enough when you’ve got people packed in like sardines, like how is that even going to work? There’s just so many questions right now, I feel like this is just going to take so many months, potentially years just to untangle new business models and really understand how to find a path forward for on-premise. OK, we gotta leave this on a happy note guys.
A: I think the happy note is that, I think a lot of these laws that we’ve all wondered forever now whether they would ever loosen, will. And I think that’s good ultimately for consumers. I think consumers recognizing that….
Z: And for producers.
A: Yeah, it’s good for everybody, right? Us realizing that we can buy that Cru Beaujolais even if we live in a state in which we don’t have a wine store that would sell it, is awesome. Us realizing that, you know, we can now go out in a park and hopefully have a really great cocktail or bottle of wine or a beer without thinking that we’re breaking a law that everyone breaks anyways unless you’re a person of color or another minority, right? Like we’re just gonna let everyone finally do that, is awesome. And I think that you know, if we can loosen up these laws as well to allow us to drink really great drinks made by really… you know, by amazing professionals, either at their location or somewhere else, is a very good thing. And hopefully all of that stuff will happen.
E: Yeah, hey, we’ll take silver linings anywhere we can find them right now.
A: Exactly, exactly. Well as always, we appreciate everyone who tunes in every week to listen to the podcast and all the Corona Conversations that we’ve been having over the last four weeks. Again, please drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a subject you want us to talk about, shoot us an idea. Someone we need to interview, please let us know. And as always please give us a review, it really helps people discover the show whether you’re listening to us on iTunes, where most of you are listening, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever else it is that you get your podcasts. And Zach, Erica, always a pleasure, I’ll talk to you again next week.
Z: Sounds great.
A: Thanks so much for listening to the VinePair podcast. If you enjoy listening to us every week please leave us a review or rating on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever it is you get your podcasts, it really helps everyone else discover the show. And now for the credits:
VinePair is produced and hosted by Zach Geballe, Erica Duecy, and me: Adam Teeter. Our engineer is Nick Patri and Keith Beavers. I’d also like to give a special shout out to my VinePair co-founder Josh Malin and the rest of the VinePair team for their support. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you again right here next week.
Published: April 14, 2020