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Some Random Bar
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Belltown’s Some Random Bar lost money staying open, but is hopeful for May

Some Random Bar in Belltown is staying open for takeout orders during the COVID-19 closures. (Photo courtesy of Some Random Bar on Facebook)

As bars and restaurants across the state face continued closures in the weeks ahead, only able to offer delivery and takeout, many are struggling to survive. The debate becomes, is it worth it to stay open with only takeout or at limited capacity?

Mike Maione, owner of Some Random Bar in Belltown, stayed open for takeout orders in April. He ran the numbers and found that even after doing $40,000 in sales last month, his business lost $12,000. If Some Random Bar had closed completely, it would have lost $10,000.

Prior to joining KIRO Nights, Maione had shared these numbers publicly in a Facebook post.

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“There’s a certain level of frustration, I think, for small business owners any time someone tells them how they should model their business, or what they should do, or how they should change their operating philosophies,” he said. “[I thought] maybe people should just see actual numbers and then they can form an opinion on actual numbers instead of just how they think businesses should run or ought to run.”

He was nervous to disclose all the finances of his business, but wanted to spark honest conversations.

“If we go back to the end of March, we were faced with the question: Do we stay open for takeout or do we close the doors?” Maione said. “And my wife and I decided that we’re going to stay open for takeout. We had no idea what our takeout sales would be, … and we were willing to bet on ourselves and take the chance.”

Maione said they knew that if they closed entirely, they would lose money.

“We figured if we opened, we could minimize our losses, or the best case scenario would be that we’d be slightly profitable,” he said.

While most people assume that if you have more sales, you have more profit, Maione explained that’s not always the case.

“That’s true once you get to a certain threshold,” he said. “But in our instance, if we have zero sales, we lose $10,000. We had $40,000 in sales, and we lost $12,000, so we actually lost $2,000 by being open.”

To Maione, staying open in April was worth it even with the losses. Now, Some Random Bar has hard numbers that can help them plan for the future and show opportunities where money can be saved.

“I’ve also got hope,” he said. “I hope things are gonna get better. One thing that was not available to us in April was the PPP, … we’ve just been approved for PPP loan. I don’t have the funding yet, but certainly that has the potential to offset rent, utilities, and labor costs in May, which would then actually make us profitable just doing takeout.”

“For $2,000, I gained incredible knowledge as far as the numbers of my business,” he added. “And then I think when you’re open, and the community sees you working every day, and you get to thank the community for supporting you every day, I think that just strengthens the relationship with the community and increases our chances of being successful when this is all over.”

Some Random Bar also ran a GoFundMe campaign that Maione thinks would not have been successful if their doors had been closed.

Meanwhile, Maione said his staff is making more money on unemployment than they would at work due to the additional $600 bonus per week.

“Every single one of my servers and bartenders, and every single one of my line cooks is making more on unemployment right now than if I were to bring them back in based on the amount of sales and the amount of tips on a nightly basis,” Maione said. “That’s because of the $600 bonus. If that bonus didn’t exist, I’m sure they would all be eager to come back to work.”

He’s not trying to imply his staff is lazy, he clarified, but said there’s just not an incentive to come back to work financially, plus there are health risks to be considered.

“I don’t think there’s a blanket answer that applies to everyone,” he said. ” … I have a server who has a stepson. I have a line cook who has a pregnant wife. So they’ve got to consider is it worth it for me to work hours, potentially make less money, and risk the health of myself or my loved ones?”

“Now the server might say, ‘Yeah, I’m bored, I’ll work 10 hours for you,'” he added. “And then a server or line cook may also say, ‘it’s not worth it for health concerns.’ But I think you have to respect both positions.”

For now, Maione is hopeful that things will get better and said Some Random Bar will stay open in May.

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“We’re gonna do takeout, we’ve got the potential of a PPP loan to help us out,” he said. “We’ve also got the potential with the new cocktails to-go to increase sales that way. … We have the possibility to become profitable, and so that just all kind of ties in with hope that things will get better, and then the belief that the harder you work, the more successful you will be. So that’s kind of our game plan going forward.”

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7 – 10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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