Resiliency of ALX: The People's Drug + King's Ransom

Resiliency of ALX: The People's Drug + King's Ransom

By Jon Schott, Managing Partner

Jon Schott, Managing Partner | Photo: Igda Warner

My name is Jon Schott. I am the managing partner and beverage director at the People’s Drug and at the King’s Ransom and the Handover.

Before COVID, things were going great. We were coming up on two years of being open at the People’s Drug and we had a great team, great people, great staff.

Meanwhile, we’d just spent the last six months working to open the King’s Ransom and the Handover. We opened those places on February, 18th. We had a large sushi bar downstairs and a cocktail bar we were able to design and put upstairs. But we were only open for four weeks before we closed.

On March 18th, we closed both restaurants.

Imagine how that felt. One business, the People’s Drug, took two years to get going. Meanwhile, we just put in all this effort to open King’s Ransom and the Handover and it all went away in the blink of an eye. These businesses are places I love. It was crazy to see it taken away and it was crazy to think about the entire staff out of work.

But we didn’t get deterred. The tenacity and resilience of the staff was what supported us. It was blood, sweat, and tears.

Jon Schott, Managing Partner | Photo: Igda Warner

Food and beverage is an industry where we are very creative people and this really put it to the test and what we tried to do at both places is – our businesses were not set up for to-go or carryout at all, but we had to adjust to make sure that we could do carryout and reset the restaurant. After doing two business plans, now learning to reopen as a to-go place was a much steeper learning curve.

At the People’s Drug, we learned about doing to-go cocktails, frozen drinks, spirits packages, or whatever we could think of to make it exciting for people to be at home. We were trying to think of how we can give these people this special feeling they would get in a restaurant at home. The other thing was trying to connect with our guests by engaging with people in any way possible.

At King’s Ransom and Handover, it was really difficult because we had to change the style of sushi we were serving because it was only meant to be served in-house. It was harder because people didn’t even know what the restaurant was.

Then we came up with the idea of cocktail classes. Once we reopened the Handover, we held these cocktail classes at night. The goal was to introduce people to the restaurant one or two at a time. I planned to do it for a short one or two-month period, but I ended up running those cocktail classes for ten months. That helped us stay relevant.

We didn’t stop there. We continued to try new ideas. Every Thursday we would do an interview with someone interesting in the industry like a brand ambassador or a brewer or a distiller.

It’s still really difficult now, but we’re almost there, which is really exciting. All in all, it’s been a year of pushing ourselves and seeing how much we can do.

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VIP Alexandria Magazine is proud to present The Resiliency Issue. Featuring small business COVID-19 success stories, as told by the owners who lived in it, learned to pivot + survived.

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