When Kendra Anderson opened the Helix Bar in Denver in October 2017, it was just a nice, sexy little bar, she said. It had an intimate atmosphere, served variations of Negroes and champagne and small plates and was immediately appreciated by the community and the local press.
Unfortunately, the warm intimacy that made Bar Helix their first favourite made 2020 even more difficult, says Anderson. The concept of who he was didn’t falter with Covid.
The 17th. In March, the closure of the Denver bars was ordered to slow down the spread of a new coronavirus pandemic. Three days later the drinks were legalized in Colorado and Bar Helix, like other bars in the country, changed direction.
Anderson compares the change in the configuration of Bar Helix during the first months of the pandemic with the decision-making in purgatory. In April and May, the bar remained open and Anderson was busy as usual, but the menu was different and the takeaways only accounted for 10-20% of the bar’s typical monthly income.
When you’re in a scenario like that, you don’t pay much attention to what you want to do, Anderson says. It’s more about what you have to do to get everything in order.
The temporary popup window of Boar X at Bar Helix had a different menu and operating system / Photo thanks to Boar X on Facebook.
When the limited capacity bars were allowed to reopen in June, the tide turned. Although the best term would be a panic turnaround, says Anderson, because the turnaround involves the luxury of a period of reflection.
The 17th. June Anderson announced the release of Cabana X in Bar Helix, a tropical pop-up on a nearby outdoor terrace. The summer concept included a regularly changing menu with tropical themes such as Tulum, Phuket and Rio de Janeiro.
It took us two weeks to get this thing open, from idea to operation, Anderson said. This is insane. It’s not fair. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
In this short period of time, she created Cabana X almost from scratch, with a new reservation system and a new point of sale, as well as furniture and menus. Anderson hired seven people in addition to the two people who helped in the initial phase of the pandemic – Samuel Barraza and Cristina LeMieu. Covid’s constantly changing instructions made her already difficult task even more difficult, she says.
A real fatigue. There’s mask fatigue, protocol fatigue. I think we have to give in: Kendra Anderson, Bar Helix.
However, the panic in Eber X worked in different ways. The positive press from the early days and the influence of the evening media helped, and Anderson believes that the revolving problems encouraged people to return. She estimates that only 25% of Cabana X’s guests were regulars in the Bar Helix – the tropically inspired open courtyard is a long way from the comfortable DJ lounge – but Anderson has managed to find a new audience.
I think he was just talking to people, Anderson said. They wanted to rest, so we gave it to them.
Alexis Chemily was first interviewed for a position at Bar Helix before the pandemic began, after moving from New York to Denver. The bars had to close before she got to Bar Helix, and she was still looking for work when Cabana X opened and Anderson took her away.
It rained the first week, Hamily says. I always thought they’d call me back, but they don’t. He was so busy, I couldn’t even look straight ahead.
Hemily adds that the advice can sometimes be daunting and that many people don’t understand the risks to those who work in the industry. However, some were wearing masks as she approached her table, and she was lucky to spend most of the time behind the bar.
Barraza, who worked in the kitchen, noticed that some people seem to be more valuable employees of the bar and restaurant.
They used to consider restaurants as entry-level jobs, Barraza said. Now people are starting to notice. No more praise, no more thanks. Sometimes a waiting time of 15 minutes doesn’t seem so bad.
Eber X was originally supposed to last about eight weeks and was then extended by another six weeks. The pop-up window in the courtyard opened on the 10th. Closed in October.
Owner Kendra Anderson now has to decide what to do with Bar Helix. / Photo courtesy of Eber X of Instagram.
I think part of the panic was manageable because it didn’t feel like a commitment, says Anderson. It seems now that everything we do is for the foreseeable future. It’s much harder to get your head in your pockets, especially now that we know what to do.
If Kabana X was successful, Kabana X, who remained open for the past few months, had to pay.
A real fatigue. There’s mask fatigue, protocol fatigue. I think you should acknowledge it in a way that I haven’t experienced very often, Anderson.
She needs time to figure out how to get on with Bar Helix. The possibilities are limited, she says, but she has a financial and legal obligation to do something for the company this winter.
We’re going through this, the world keeps turning, Anderson said. But instead of thinking it’ll be easier in six months. Well, let’s see.
highlights bars, bottle shops and people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and what they are doing to survive the crisis. For more information, see Business Bars.
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