From selling flowers and local farms’ veggies boxes to selling food, art and alcohol, Athens bar The World Famous has found a variety of ways to stay open for business during the coronavirus outbreak in Georgia.
For businesses in Athens, the lack of revenue has led to out of pocket expenditures. For bars like The World Famous, this means paying rent for their location, insurance for their business as well as bills, said David Parajon, owner of the bar.
To keep themselves afloat during this time, Parajon, along with a limited number of employees, are finding ways to keep the bar open to the community while supporting themselves and providing opportunities to other local businesses and individuals.
On March 28, Athens-Clarke County issued an emergency ordinance allowing licensed establishments to sell closed container alcoholic beverages for takeout, allowing bars like The World Famous to earn revenue by selling their alcohol inventory.
“I definitely advocated for that and I'm very, very thankful that our commissioners like Tim Denson fought for that and it’s been excellent, Parajon said. “This is just a great way to kind of liquidate existing inventory and put some cash back in the bank if you will.”
Parajon acknowledged that while The World Famous couldn’t compete with liquor stores or groceries stores like Kroger and Walmart, it was still a way to earn some money.
In addition to selling their alcohol inventory, the bar has also taken to selling any items they have stocked up, from gloves and toilet paper, to simple syrups used for cocktails.
“So our owner, David has a menagerie of random oddities in a storage shed,” said Paddy Nolan, an employee at The World Famous. “And so those things will be coming this way as well. And so we’ll start referring to it as the dumb store.”
The items are selling, whether it’s the $2 roadies or the $1 paper towel rolls, Nolan said.
The bar also continues to serve specific food items from their menu, doing specials like Taco Tuesdays and allowing people to pick up curbside or choose delivery through Uber Eats. Parajon and two employees said they wear masks and gloves when interacting with customers during curbside pick up.
“And I think that by keeping myself safe, and also showing that I’m wearing a mask and gloves to let people know that, hey, I’m taking this serious,” Nolan said. “Same time I’m here to provide you with something that you can’t really get right now.”
The bar's services aside, Parajon has opened the location up to other members of the community, allowing them to either sell alongside them, sell together or promote their products.
The bar has hosted an art auction, where local artists, including Will Eskridge, Abby Kacen and James Burns donated their artwork for the bar to sell on location and online. Customers were able to pick up their pieces curbside.
“I think it’s a good choice,” local artist Abby Kacen said. “There are other local businesses that I know that have been doing similar things. If there are artists that are able to contribute something to help a local business I think it’s another way to bring the community together.”
The World Famous has also previously partnered with two local farms, Diamond Hill and Hearts of Harvest Farms, to sell flowers and veggie boxes, respectively. Nolan said they sold 32 bushels of flowers from Diamond Hills Farm on April 3.
Hearts of Harvest Farms, which recently had to switch to an all online business plan as opposed to their regular profit from farmer’s markets, plans to sell their veggie boxes at The World Famous every Wednesday, said owner Paul Sorah.
“They've been so generous to open up a revenue stream for us that didn't exist two weeks ago,” Sorah said about The World Famous.
Hearts of Harvest sold out of their 20 veggie box orders at The World Famous on April 15 and plans to raise the number of available boxes for the location, Sorah said. The farm uses the bar as a pick up location for veggie box orders, where customers place their orders online.
“We’re looking to do more collaboration like that,” Parajon said. “Basically we’d like to collaborate with a lot of folks who may be deemed non-essential at this point.”
While these partnerships and solutions have kept their doors open, The World Famous and employees have also made sure to market themselves to the community through social media. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts post daily about what they have in stock, pictures or graphics for whoever they’ve partnered with in the community, sale items and the food they’ve prepared for the day.
“I’ve been putting commercials on Facebook and Instagram because I’m silly,” Nolan said. “I’m just trying to make some light of it. And let people know they can get a club and a beer.”
Disclaimer: James Burns is the husband of The Red & Black publisher Rebecca Burns.