Restaurants shifting concepts to stay afloat amid pandemic

Five months into the pandemic, some area restaurants are making previously unimaginable changes in an effort to survive.

“Everyone’s kind of changed like overnight, from one concept to another,” said Johnny Spero, owner and executive chef at Reverie Restaurant in Georgetown, where at one point they went from serving fine dining to high-end burgers, almost exclusively, pretty much overnight.

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“We turned into the thing that I didn’t really build this restaurant to operate as, which is like, a takeout burger restaurant, you know? It’s kind of wild,” Spero said Thursday.

That change is just the beginning.

Back in May, Beuchert’s Saloon owner Andrew Markert told FOX 5 he was really hoping that being able to serve carry-out alcohol would help. It has, but not enough. So now, he’s changing the restaurant altogether, launching Fight Club, a pop-up within Beuchert’s, in less than a week.

As Markert previously told Washingtonian, they’ll be serving creative sandwiches and boozy punch.

“Now we’re just trying to figure out the best way to pivot, the best way to survive this storm,” Markert said. “I hope that there’s more relief, but you know right now we’re just not sure.”

And these are just two examples. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington said they know of at least 65 restaurants in the District, Northern Virginia, and Maryland that have closed during the pandemic.

RELATED: Restaurant associations project 25% of DC, Maryland restaurants will close for good

Markert said he was surprised that number wasn’t even higher. “It’s really disheartening to think about all the work that all of us in this industry have put into our restaurants and put our souls into them really, just to see this kind of like start to fall apart,” he explained.

Bottom line, times are tough right now, and area restaurants like these are getting creative to try and make it through.

“We’re not making money, but we’re making enough that we can make sure that they’re taken care of because they’re my family,” Spero said, gesturing to his staff. “They’ve been here since the beginning. So yeah, it’s been kind of nuts.”

Right now, Reverie is doing dinner service and carryout Wednesday through Sunday. Fight Club is scheduled to officially open Wednesday morning at 11.