I Can Do More For My Community as a Brand Ambassador Than as a Bartender

The dining scene in D.C.hasn’t at all reached the same level as Atlanta—it’s like night and day. When I was in town a couple weeks ago, I was able to stop by Prost, where I used to work, and a few other restaurants. Even though I was thrilled to see the dining rooms open again and the team doing well, there is definitely not the same level of comfort for dining inside as I’ve seen in Atlanta. That means that restaurants in D.C. really are depending on the full functionality of their outdoor dining spaces, as well as continuing to push to-go sales.

I have so much respect for hospitality workers—especially bar owners—at this time. My family at Prost and a multitude of friends throughout the country are giving it all they’ve got right now. Now that I’m working for Grey Goose again, I have the opportunity to support different bars and restaurants as they try to survive in this unpredictable time. I think that my current role allows me the ability to help the industry on a broader scale. As a beverage consultant, at times, I could be very restricted by the four walls of any particular restaurant or scenario. Though I was lucky at Prost to have a lot of flexibility, that’s not always the case.

My team and I have created a number of different programs and trainings to help industry workers get back on their feet. We’re holding informational sessions on how to gain access to financial support; we bring in financial advisors to share budgeting advice or have live drop-in sessions for folks to get their finance-related questions answered. Historically, in the restaurant industry it hasn’t been easy or straightforward to gain access to this kind of information. Throw in a global pandemic, and a lot of people were and have continued to be left in the dark on how or where to get their next paycheck. Our team has worked hard to create a roadmap in order to bridge the gap and make the craziness of the pandemic a little more manageable for people working in the restaurant industry. Anything that can help employees get back on their feet and businesses keep their doors open is really the main objective. To that end we have also compiled and distributed resources on a range of topics for bartenders to read on their own. As a team we are constantly trying to remain as up to date on COVID-related support as possible, so industry workers can always come to us with questions.

Other initiatives have targeted creating outlets for mental health and overall wellness, with activities such as virtual yoga classes, outdoor meditation classes, virtual paint-and-sips, as well partnering with a local community garden to donate plots of land for bartenders to grow their own product. So far folks who are able to attend these different sessions are excited to learn new things. In some ways doing everything virtually has actually allowed for more flexibility and access to information.

We are all dealing with trauma in a multitude of different ways, and it is not only important but necessary to find a good outlet and support system. I hope to continue to create these opportunities for the hospitality community however I can, whether that involves an in-depth vodka class, a financial bootcamp, or just a virtual check-in with a martini in hand.

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