Brooklyn venue pivots to retail to survive pandemic

Courtesy of Barbès

As the temperature drops and the practicality of outdoor dining turns questionable, one Park Slope watering hole is pivoting to retail to stay afloat amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Barbès, the long-running music venue, and bar on Ninth Street near Sixth Avenue is offering bottles of wine and liquor for sale in an effort to survive the long winter ahead.

“We’re hoping it can sustain us through the end of the tunnel,” said Barbès owner Olivier Conan. “We’re trying to turn into more of a retail place, selling the types of products we didn’t have before.” 

Conan says he has spent time researching higher quality booze than the bar currently offers, including natural wines from small producers, local producers, and hard to find Georgian wines.

“I’m French and wine has been in my background forever,” Conan said. “I really love the network of small producers that are not farming in the way big farmers have been farming in the past 50 years.”

Barbès has offered outdoor seating since the summer, but the venue lacks the space to build an enclosed patio, and with revenues at only 20 percent of what they once were, installing gas heaters would be too expensive, said Conan.

Still, the bar owner hopes his pivot to retail will help get the Park Slope staple through the colder months.

Customers can order booze on Barbès’ new website and pick it up at the bar. Conan also plans on soon offering delivery for big orders. 

In the meantime, Conan says he’s gotten a good response to the new service. Since launching the bottle shop on Nov. 23, he said, he’s heard from a bevy of Barbès’ regulars who want to keep the beloved venue in business through the pandemic.

“It’s really been great to see the response from people,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that want to support us — it feels good.” 

Barbès Bottle Shop, 379 Ninth St. near Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, (347) 422-0248, barbesbottleshop.com

This story first appeared on BrooklynPaper.com