How New York City’s Bars And Restaurants Are Pivoting To Alcohol Delivery

Among all the understandable fears surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus right now, New Yorkers faced a dilemma this weekend: Should the city’s residents offer their characteristic solidarity with those in the hospitality industry, by continuing to dine out in restaurants and bars (albeit under capacity caps), or should New Yorkers instead adhere to the strict government guidelines calling for social distancing?

Come Monday morning, that decision was made for them. In a joint decision announced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, all bars and restaurants within the tri-state area were forced to close for on-premise service, and instead pivot to take out and delivery only, effective 8 p.m. ET.

For bars and restaurants, that announcement brought a glimmer of hope amidst unprecedented trying times. But it also raised new questions: First, how quickly can a business that primarily deals with guests inside its own four walls scramble to become a take-out and delivery operation? And second: How can they do so while still offering the hospitality that defines the industry?

At La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, one of the city’s leading wine bars located in Lower Manhattan, managing partner Caleb Ganzer and general manager and wine director Sam Stoppelmoor started working on a solution as soon as they heard the news.

Starting Monday evening, the bar will offer its complete wine list online — for delivery or take-out — with a 25 percent discount. The bar’s staff will take care of all deliveries, which they expect to offer within a limited area throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

“We’re keeping as many people [working] here as we can,” Stoppelmoor says. “Taking care of our team and our community is the No. 1 priority right now.”

As part of its new role as a wine delivery service, La Compagnie will deliver a curated selection of four “delicious and rare” wines for $95. Ganzer is currently recording an accompanying “Wine BootCamp” video, which will run on the bar’s YouTube channel and provide an educational guided tasting of the wines. (La Compagnie usually hosts regular educational Wine BootCamps at its Nolita location.)

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