The night saw me at a restaurant and at a neighborhood bar – the one I used to frequent pre-pandemic. I was surprised that though it was a small restaurant, all the 5 tables were occupied. It’s pretty good to see how businesses are slowly getting a better turnover for their inventory, especially for restaurants. It seems that the busyness for them is coming back, and so is the income.
The bar was the same. When we entered, just two other tables were occupied. It was much brighter-lit than how it used to be when I’d go… but maybe I’ve never really gone this early before corona hit. I was happy to see the same bartender from before covid attending to the guests. We had our place at the table, with acrylic stands in the middle for supposed protection for those who are sitting in front of each other. It’s like talking to someone who’s in prison, or talking to someone you’re about to give payment to. It’s a bit funny, but I guess these are pretty good precautions to take.
As the night wore on, more and more people entered until all the tables were occupied. Everyone was regarding the bartender with much fondness. This gave me a sense of delight, too – how customers over the years are affectionate towards him, almost as if they’re all good friends. This and the whole bar’s vibe was an enlivening sight, actually – something I missed and I’m sure we all have when the quarantines started. The whole place looking so animated helped ignite the old feeling of being mobile and young and just able to indulge in wherever the night and all its potential for something exciting and memorable to happen would just lead you to. It’s a pretty good, balanced number – not too full for you to be irritated because you can’t sit down, though not nearly full enough for the business to keep making a good profit a night.
This also led me to missing hearing live music in this bar. As I was ruminating on how the decent number in the room meant that musicians could already be accommodated, my friend said, it could be okay if they were playing for free. But if the door charge was an important factor to the artists’ presence, then it wouldn’t really make so much sense.
The establishment is probably just operating and covering for fixed costs. It’s a good thing people are actually patronizing the setup. But the musician’s scene still looks a bit bleak. This is also where our conversation led to. My friend asked me if I knew anyone who had to make huge sacrifices just to make ends meet for this unfavorable period of time. And as a matter of fact, I did. I had one musician friend who posted how he needed to sell a favorite guitar of his, but that even if it hurt him, he had to put his family first. And that he’s hopeful that he’ll make up for this presumed loss when things get back to normal.
I really hope that the nightlife that gave these people a livelihood could come back, and in a way that wouldn’t compromise the safety of the people. Though the pandemic brought a lot of benefits to those on the other side of the spectrum who didn’t need the non-essential economic activity in order to put food in their mouths, there are these people who have been affected. My heart and thoughts go out to all of them. I really wish we could work our way around this soon.