While many local businesses slowly reopen, San Diego bars remain shut down because of the public health order. That means thousands of local bartenders who relied on tips, are now struggling to figure out whether or not they need to carve out a new career path.
“Not knowing what I’m coming back to. If my career choice is obsolete. That’s the hard part,” said Adam Carbonell, a bartender at The Whiskey House in downtown San Diego, California.
One creative way Carbonell has figured out to make money is online cocktail lessons.
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“I turned my kids’ bedroom into a minibar and did a lecture and a bartending gig for 200 people who I couldn’t even see,” Carbonell said.
The audience watched on Zoom and viewers donated money on Venmo. Carbonell has also taken on odd jobs to make ends meet. He has received unemployment and a stimulus check, but for the married father of two, it’s not enough.
Bars in downtown San Diego rely on conventions and tourism to attract customers. Without the crowds, the long-term survival of bars and restaurants is uncertain. Several bars have already been forced to shut down because of the pandemic. Some local restaurants are pushing the city of San Diego to allow street dining.
“Now we can do beers to go. Cocktails to go. Maybe we can close the street down here and have people with drinks out here,” Carbonell said.
California has relaxed some regulations on alcohol sales since the start of the pandemic. There is still a lot of concern in the industry that many bars now closed, will never reopen. But people like Carbonell are optimistic.
“The hope is that we just nurture the community. We bring more people into the downtown area,” said Carbonell.
COVID-19 relief funds have been set to help people in the service industry. For more information on how to help, click here.