While many businesses have suffered due to COVID-19, some have remained closed for an exorbitant amount of time. As discussed earlier this month, Village Theater shut its doors in mid March and has yet to reopen. The Little Club has experienced a similar fate, also closing in mid March, then reopening June 17th and closing back down two weeks later.
The family owned bar established in 1958, has been in the Roswell family since Barbara bought it in 1973. In 1999 when Barbara passed, her children Liz and Charles Roswell took over. Liz and Charles are still a big part of The Little Club along with current General Manager, Ernie Valdez. Ernie has been at The Little Club for 29 years this December.
While restaurants remain open, albeit with a few hoops, bars that do not serve food have been ordered to close. In Coronado, that leaves just The Little Club. Ernie is in the dark with the rest of the community as he confesses that he has, “no idea when we will be able to reopen. I wouldn’t want to speculate.” He does promise patrons, “we will be ready to reopen the day we get the green light.”
The Little Club has made many changes to accommodate county and state guidelines. Ernie explains, “the biggest change has been opening up our patio for extra space. We also closed the pool tables and used them as two big service tables when large groups of the same household came in. We added multiple sanitation dispensers for both customers and our service staff. During our two weeks open, we had at least two staff on at all times. Customers were encouraged to stay seated and we stopped ordering at the bar. Instead, we had staff seat people and open a tab.” In addition, Karaoke Mondays were put on ice.
During their two weeks open, Ernie shares that there was “great compliance.” Hours were limited both weeks, opening at 6PM versus allowing the day clientele. Staff was strict with mask requirements for customers to enter the bar. One of the charms of The Little Club is the staff that locals have gotten to know over the years, some decades! “The old time bartenders are still here – Laurie, Caine, Emily,” Ernie shares. Ernie has been checking in on staff during this time and assessing each one’s level of confidence in going back to work. They have also hired some new people as the bar transitions from bartenders to more of a server role.
Since The Little Club is closed for not providing food, we questioned adding food in order to reopen. Ernie addresses this, “for what we do, partnering with a food company doesn’t make financial sense. A lot of people want to come to The Little Club for a couple beers. It would cost more to be open with food.” So, what can locals do to support the bar? Ernie requests, “the only thing we are asking is don’t forget us when we reopen. [When we reopen] come and support us and be respectful of guidelines. We want to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable when they are back. We look forward to our customers seeing our long time staff and meeting the new servers/bartenders!”
Bonus: As of December 2019, The Little Club accepts credit cards.