One Fort Lauderdale establishment is hoping to make a positive difference for bars that have been unable to operate amid ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Every Monday for the foreseeable future, the Wilder lounge in Fort Lauderdale will present its "In the Biz" pop-up, offering its space to bars and food trucks and their furloughed employees. The invite is open to any local Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade-based establishment looking to get back to business.
The Wilder's manager, Tamara Jovanovic, says the idea is to invite bars that have been closed for the past five months to take over for one night, allowing their out-of-work employees to do what they love, make a little money, and connect with their regulars to keep their establishment relevant.
"This pandemic has been the worst thing to happen to our industry since prohibition," Jovanovic tells New Times. "We wanted to do something to help others since we are fortunate to be able to open."
The first popup to take over the Wilder was nearby Rhythm & Vine, on August 3. The following week the lounge turned over the spotlight to Fort Lauderdale's Hub Lounge. Buoyed by the response to both events, the Wilder team officially announced that it would open itself up to other businesses unable to operate.
Via the popup, establishments are able to bring their own flair to the space, Jovanovic says. Every Monday, the featured business can display merchandise, play its own music, and even assist the Wilder staff in selecting the night's accompanying food-truck fare.
Most important, however, they're able to provide guests with their own menu of specialty or signature cocktails served up by their own bartenders and staff.
"Each popup brings whatever it is they are known for," Jovanovic says. "They can wear their bar uniforms or bring any promo items they want. For many of them, it will be the first time the 'family' is coming together in nearly six months."
To ensure there's enough room for customers both new and familiar to attend each popup, the Wilder recently redesigned its space to comply with local restrictions and guidelines, setting up additional tables and seating inside and outdoors, on the patio and in the parking lot, to ensure safe social-distancing.
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This week's pop-up (Monday, August 17) features the Booze Garden and the Greek food truck on. Next Monday, August 24, brings Blondie's and the Hummingbird Table.
Business owners interested in learning more about participating in future "In the Biz" pop-ups should email email@example.com or call 954-683-9453.
"So far, the industry pop-up has been a huge success," Jovanovic says. "We'll be here to help as long as the need is there."
The Wilder. 701 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-683-9453; intothewilder.com.