Taking over the ownership of a restaurant amid a pandemic is simply bad timing, but with a little creativity and some alcohol, a restaurateur can make the best of an unfortunate situation.
That was the case for Marios Patatinis, who recently purchased The Bench Bar And Grill in Stony Brook with a couple of partners and also owns Sweet Mama’s and Grandpa’s Shed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic forced us and others restaurants to think outside the box,” says Patatinis. “Outside of our food, which can be ordered to go through several platforms, our customers were missing out on our cocktails, so it just made sense for us to get creative and do something fun.”
The Bench’s management team put their heads together — while keeping 6 feet apart, of course — tossed some ideas around and ultimately settled on the concept of packaging to-go cocktails in 24-ounce mason jars, which hold two and a half drinks.
The Bench’s to-go cocktail menu lists three drinks: 3V-Rita classic margarita, a rum punch dubbed the patriot, and what’s known as shepherds-ade, made up of vodka, homemade lemonade, seltzer, and Arnold Palmer Iced Tea, and garnished with fresh blueberries.
One of the challenges The Bench has been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic is operating during rush hour with a limited staff. The bar and grill receives many of its to-go orders during a three-hour window in the evening.
“We’re banging out an average of about 50 to-go cocktails a night,” he says.
The response has been incredible, Patatinis says. Many of The Bench’s customers have kept their mason jars instead of throwing them away, using them as part of home decor, or to preserve food or store other items.
Some restaurants on Long Island have been offering to-go cocktails to partially compensate for lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of these restaurants, including The Bench, plan on continuing to sell to-go cocktails after the pandemic passes.
“We’re going to keep offering to-go cocktails after the COVID-19 pandemic, and build upon our current menu,” he says.
The Bench Bar And Grill is located at 1095 NY-25A in Stony Brook it can be reached at 631-675-1474 or thebenchbar.com
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