When the governor acted, it didn’t take long for Tiny House to make a big move.
The bar in Omaha’s Little Bohemia neighborhood known for its creative cocktails is an example of a hospitality business that has adjusted to a new way of doing business under the threat of coronavirus. In no time, it has converted its lounge into a quick-stop bar. Using a window.
“As soon as I read the Liquor Commission’s update saying they had released the prohibition on curbside pickup and drive-thru, I just thought, ‘Let’s go for it,’ ” said Megan Malone, managing partner of Tiny House.
On March 19, Gov. Pete Ricketts directed restaurants and bars in Cass, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington Counties to close their dining areas and move to takeout and delivery only. The order allows bars to sell alcohol in drive-thru or curbside orders.
Tiny House is no stranger to evolving with the times. Originally built around 1910 as a small residence, it was renovated and repurposed by developers leading the broader effort to revive the 13th Street commercial corridor south of downtown.
Across the street from the trendy one-story tavern is the landmark Bohemian Café, now a brewery. Other aging storefronts nearby have been transformed into modern businesses, including a coffee shop and clothing store.
Tiny House’s new drive-thru service is open every day from 4 to 7 p.m. Customers can order their cocktail packages or other beverage orders through Tiny House’s Facebook or Instagram pages or call Malone’s cellphone. Once the orders are placed, customers can drive up to the drive-thru window — the second window on the south side of Tiny House — and pick up their orders.
“It has been busy, and people are loving the options,” Malone said.
Tiny House is using its social media platforms to promote new cocktail packages and drink specials for customers to see before ordering. Malone said the cocktail packages have been selling the most because customers are given the ingredients and recipes to make Tiny House’s signature drinks at home.
“We’ve been kind of rereleasing drinks that we had taken off of our menu and the current best-sellers,” Malone said.
Tiny House closed its doors on March 15 after realizing the close quarters would not follow the distance requirement of 6 feet between patrons. Malone said closing was an uneasy feeling since the tavern had opened only a year ago this month.
“We went from setting sales records every week to potentially being closed indefinitely,” Malone said.
But reopening with the drive-thru option on March 19 was uplifting. Since Tiny House was originally a, well, house, it has several windows, with one at a perfect level for vehicles to reach.
“We are just so happy to have any avenue to keep people’s spirits up,” Malone said.
Erin Dyer has been the main full-time bartender since Tiny House opened, and she said the transition to a drive-thru bar has been exciting for the customers and herself.
“It’s definitely not the same, but it is something personally uplifting,” Dyer said. “It’s a personal interaction with people that you can still have and just seeing (customers) being happy.”
Dyer said it’s encouraging to see the continuous support from customers wanting to help their local businesses. She described the days of the bar shutdown as the worst that they could be. The mood turned quickly, however, with the new drive-thru window.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that we are still trying to make it work,” Dyer said. “It’s a day-by-day thing where we are all trying to figure it out.”
Dyer said the main focus is to keep customers healthy and happy by asking them to preorder and pay before pickup.
“It’s uplifting to see people have fun for just a couple of moments,” Dyer said. “It’s still a way to stay connected with our customers.”