BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Barr’s Public House, one of the area’s top spots for premium cocktails and vibrant atmosphere, has opened its doors for inside dining following a nine-week shutdown due to the COVD-19 pandemic.
Managing partner Stephanie Soldner said that after a slow start, things are steadily picking back up.
“I think that we are lucky that we do have a reputation for being a cleaner, nicer place, and now that we have added more cleaning procedures on top of what we already do, I think that people trust us, which is really nice,” she said.
“We are really diligent about keeping all of our common areas clean by doing hourly checks on certain things,” she added. “Our staff has been so cool about keeping up on things. They do it without being told because they care, and I think we are lucky in that regard.”
Barr’s offered curbside pickup for one week before completely shutting down on March 23. Then, on April 23, curbside pickup resumed until June 1, when Barr’s re-opened under the new CDC guidelines.
Now operating at 70-percent capacity, the tables are spaced 6 feet apart and Plexiglas barriers have been installed between some eating areas. In addition, each area is thoroughly cleaned between parties and customers must remain seated with their drinks and food. Around the bar, parties must remain 6 feet apart and the area must be completely sanitized between customers. Extra seating is also available on the outdoor patio.
Live music is offered occasionally during the lunch hour, and musicians stream their performances on Facebook Live, which are then replayed on the Barr’s Facebook page during the evenings the musicians were scheduled to perform pre-COVID. Updates are available on the business website and Facebook page.
“We are also promoting virtual tips for our musicians, and our customers have been very receptive to that,” Soldner said.
Like so many businesses adversely affected by the shutdown, Soldner said that Barr’s was very close to closing completely.
“We would have had to close our doors permanently if we hadn’t gotten the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan because bills were still coming in and we weren’t creating any revenue. We are doing the best we can to make sure employees are making enough money to get by. It’s not what they were making, but it’s enough to get by,” she said.
The pandemic has led to a compromise in the food supply chain as prices have gone up exponentially. In spite of those difficulties, the menu remains fresh and creative, and Soldner has no plans to increase prices at this point, unlike other eating establishments that have implemented a “COVID” charge on food.
“I don’t plan on doing that. I really only raise my prices if the market makes me do so,” she said.
Prior to the shutdown, Barr’s Public House was humming along and reporting the best numbers since opening in January 2012. Significant expansions with the addition of a new dining area and outdoor patio had been completed, as well as a kitchen remodel and staff wage increases.
Now, Soldner is working hard to keep her staff of 25 employed and her customers coming back for the enjoyable experience they are used to, even with the new guidelines.
“We are here, open and doing the best that we can to keep the customers and employees safe. What I have learned over all of this is that we have gained some really great habits and I want to keep those habits, and we have also simplified some things,” she said.
Business networking groups can be accommodated, and the capability of connecting to virtual Zoom meetings on a large television screen is also offered. Private parties are also available on Sundays.
Food and drink specials are offered weekly, as well as happy-hour pricing.
No-contact food and drink orders may be placed online, where Barr’s delicious premium cocktails are available with any entrée order.
Barr’s Public House is open for lunch Wednesday-Friday at 11:30 a.m. Dinner hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Thursday-Saturday, 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Barr’s Public House is located at 3355 Briarfield Blvd., Ste. C, in Maumee. To contact the office, please call (419) 866-8466 or visit barrspublichouse.com online.