By Cece Cruz
Over 300 food and drink deliveries were made over the course of eight hours to 80 homes on Saturday, March 28 as residents in Patchogue participated in a virtual-bar-crawl. The event organized by The Better Man Distillery allowed bars in the area to come to their patrons’ homes while still abiding to the limitations enforced in New York for gathering in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of eight restaurants participated in two packaged groups of four, Crawl A and Crawl B. Participants could pick either Crawl A which included food and drinks from “The better Man Distilling Co,” “Village Idiot Pub,” “Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar,” and “The Cheese Patch,” or Crawl B which included “That Meetball Place,” “Great South Bar,” “Perabell Food Bar,” and “Fulton’s Gate.” The packages are conveniently ordered online on the day they register and all of it is paid up front with a credit card.
“The main reason I wanted to do it was not even to make money, but just to help people have something to look forward to on the weekend,” Abby Gruppuso, head of operations at The Better Man Distillery said. “And let them all know that we miss seeing them in our bars every weekend. We want this to be a happy memory that they can think about when they look back on this really challenging time.”
This is the second successful virtual-bar-crawl Gruppuso has organized for a second week in a row. The first one took place from 5 PM-11 PM on March 21 and was sold out within six hours. The feedback encouraged Gruppuso to extend the hours and divide the day into two sessions from 1 PM-5 PM and 5 PM-9 PM.
“We got a bunch of text messages from some of our regulars who are saying it was great and they loved it,” Terence Daly, owner of Great South Bar said.
Another first for the event was virtual live entertainment. Participants could tune into Instagram for live games hosted by The Cheese Patch and music performances from five different musicians who usually play on Main Street in Patchogue on the weekends.
“I thought this would be something fun to do, and I thought it would be cool to get some other musicians involved,” Jason Dorsa, a music teacher in the Hauppauge School district who helped line up the musicians together said. “I think we’re going to do it again next week, it’s kind of cool and a good way to support the local businesses as well.”
Residents were even able to tip the musicians in a tip jar on Gofundme.com.
“I loved how they were able to include artists who depend on local gigs that don’t exist anymore,” James Kuehn, a resident who participated in the evening crawl said.
The event was only available for residents within a three-mile radius to the bars, but Gruppuso says she plans on asking the other restaurants about possibly expanding the event to four miles.
“I love the thought that people can be in their own house,” Michelle Rafferty, the bar manager at Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar said. “I think it’s a great idea even after COVID-19 is over because not everybody likes to go out.”