Pandemic Pivot: How Businesses Are Adapting

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Many local businesses are turning to creative ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus restrictions — even as they know their percentage of sales is way down and they apply for various government assistance programs.

As for this writer, my other work is teaching piano. I have gone online, with all my students remaining except one. Others have turned to the internet and gotten creative, too.

While many businesses can carry on with their employees working from home, others — like retail stores and restaurants — operate by moving people through close quarters. Requiring a defined place to serve customers, they now must do things differently. Their businesses have been turned upside down.

Optimistic Georgetown stalwarts like Peacock Cafe on Prospect Street have never completely closed; they remain active with takeout and delivery while helping out the nonprofit Feed the Fight. Co-owners Shahab Farivar and chef Maziar Farivar said they very much “appreciate our loyal neighborhood customers.” They are offering specials but admit business is around 15 percent of what it was before the health emergency. “There’s no problem parking,” Maziar joked.

With its store closed temporarily, EllaRue on P Street has been selling through its Instagram account and is launching its e-commerce website — ella-rue.com — this week. “We were working on it but were pushed to finish it,” Krista Johnson said. “Still, we cannot wait to open safely. Each type of business will have to open safely in its own way.”

At Ella-Rue, which Johnson runs with her sister Alexa, there will be a limit of two customers at any given time, with face coverings required, when reopening comes. The shop will have shorter hours because of cleaning work, she added. Johnson said she knows the new normal will be difficult. “Nothing compares to sales like open doors,” she said. “We’re just trying to get the ball rolling.”

Grateful that its landlord asked for no April rent, Ike Behar on M Street is now selling stylish face coverings along with its men’s fashions, donating one mask to charity for each sold. Alan Behar arranged with Eileen McGrath a donation of 100 face coverings to Georgetown Ministry Center.

Rachel Shank, executive director of Georgetown Main Street, shared with us how other Georgetown businesses are working to stay alive with lots of creative options.

Chaia Tacos is transitioning to an enchilada supper club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with ready-to-eat, piping hot enchiladas to pick up and devour at home. Chaia also has a marketplace where guests can pick up necessities like corn tortillas and margaritas in Mason jars — because, in times like these, a margarita is, in fact, a necessity.

Jenn Cravato’s 1310 Kitchen & Bar at the Georgetown Inn is now offering prepackaged meals and its famous chicken pot pie. Also on Wisconsin Avenue, neighborhood landmark Martin’s Tavern has partly reopened and is offering grocery items like yeast, along with takeout. The tavern’s comfort food is perfect for our current situation. And Café Georgetown on N Street has just reopened for grab-and-go.

Part of the Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place family, Profish — which usually provides seafood for local restaurants — is sending trucks out for direct sales during the pandemic. For those interested, orders are by the pound, and wholesale pricing is currently being extended to consumers. Patrons can pick up orders at Meet the Truck locations around the city. Direct delivery is available in a dozen or so zip codes for $15.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier has virtual bridal appointments and try-on-at-home options. The store is also leading an effort in Georgetown to make face masks for hospital staff.

Georgetown Massage and Bodywork is selling gift certificates to use at a later date. There are also gift box options with items like tea, candles and essential oils to help Georgetowners stay calm during this uncertain period.

Fitness Together on N Street is offering live, one-on-one, virtual personal training. Interested parties can request an initial consultation on the Fitness Together website. And makeup bar Own Your Wonder is hosting virtual Sip ’n Glows, makeup tutorials to watch while you sip a cocktail at home. Topics include evening makeup and Desk-to-Dinner.

Supplies for Shop Made in DC’s new virtual classes are mailed to interested participants’ homes. Upcoming classes include a Virtual Cocktail Class on Thursday, May 7, with Tory Pratt, founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Company, and Intro to Drawing on Friday, May 15. The company is also selling DIY gift boxes.

On Massachusetts Avenue, John Tsaknis, DDS, is giving tele-dental visits in light of the pandemic. Individuals can get a dental exam without leaving their homes. All patients need to do is go online and fill out some forms. A member of Tsaknis’s office will visit to take X-rays and photos of your mouth. Within three days, you will receive a preliminary treatment plan.

Restaurateur Geoff Tracy (aka Chef Geoff) is offering lots of incentives to get guests to grab some of his fare, like juicy burgers and cheesy pizza. Most recently, his guest services team is offering exterior car washes Monday through Saturday for those picking up food. There is also a neighborhood pantry selling grocery essentials out of his New Mexico Avenue location. All pantry proceeds will go to his staff.

Dupont comedy club DC Improv is hosting virtual comedy shows. “Pun DMV,” a Zoom video conferencing show featuring Dana Fleitman, is set for Thursday, May 7, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. Ticketholders are sent an email half an hour before the show on how to log in. The show is the Improv’s pun competition, so get ready for plenty of groans and laughter, with an eye roll or two thrown in.

DC Cidery ANXO Cider has launched a weekly vegan CSA box for $50. Boxes include fresh, local, ethically sourced produce and other groceries. The boxes have become so popular that there is a waiting list for May. In order to meet demand, ANXO Cider is asking that individuals join their membership clubs (memberships autorenew weekly and biweekly, but there is an option to skip a week each month).

There are many more business owners out there pivoting to adapt to the pandemic. Send your stories about this difficult time to editorial@georgetowner.com.

Co-owners Shahab Farivar and Maziar Farivar of Peacock Cafe. Georgetowner photo.
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