March 10th 2020. A day i will never forget. One year ago yesterday, I woke up at 2 am. My mind was clear. And I was aware of a single reality. I was going to lose Barrel Oak. Clearly covid-19 would close us, and the business would not survive.
Lying there for the next hour, truly feeling the impact of my realization, I decided to try to do everything I could to save Barrel Oak. So many people – too many people – would be damaged by our closure. And I know that this burden I felt was felt by my many friends with their own businesses. While personal to me, it was universally shared.
Somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m. I had worked up the mental outline of my plan. Two days later I met with my senior team and presented to them the plan. And we followed it even as we rolled with reality. The framework held, and one year later we are still standing.
The next night and most of the nights that followed for several months, I awoke between 2 and 3 am. I would get up and begin work unable to return to sleep, and that is where I would spend the time working through how to move forward. One foot in front of the other. One new plan building upon the last.
I took to telling people that I was building a new business model every few weeks. It was like being pinned underwater and running out of air…
It was an exhausting and overwhelming time. My family provided me with the small moments that we could grab of ever-present love and joy to keep going, even as my team of colleagues at Barrel Oak moved heaven and earth to protect the company, each other, their families, and our guests.
I am humbled by what my colleagues have accomplished, by their dedication and patience; their innovation and extraordinary commitment to each other. They all made huge sacrifices and it means so much to now be able to provide them with raises beginning the 1st of this month. They have earned it so many times over.
There is so much for which to be grateful now. High among them is the support that we have had from our wonderful friends, guests, and community. The journey continues, and we will persevere.