NEWPORT, Ky. — It's been almost a year since the pandemic ravaged the bar and restaurant industry, and the Tri-State is still feeling the effects.
New Riff Distilling in Newport stepped up to lend a hand -- or, handle.
New Riff Distilling sold 896 bottles of a 15-year-old bourbon in just two minutes. The money is staying in the Tri-State to help bars and restaurants struggling from the pandemic.
"We were surprised by the speed I guess, but not really,” said Hannah Lowen, VP of operations at New Riff Distilling.
Lowen said they were waiting to sell the 15-year aged bourbon whiskey for a rainy day.
"And if COVID’s not a rainy day, I don't know what else is,” Lowen said. "We wanted to find a way to help our bar and restaurant community in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It's obviously been a very hard year.”
New Riff Distilling is actually doing fine during the pandemic. They wanted to pour up some love for the restaurants and bars that have been struggling. They raised nearly $140,000 from those 896 bottles.
Bill Whitlow, owner of Rich's Proper Food and Drink in Covington, said every cent is needed.
"Our fixed costs, rent, utilities, that's been the same while costs of gloves have tripled, the cost of PPE has been expensive. Serving food to go is more expensive,” Whitlow said. "If we hadn't been so supported, we might not have survived in this time and be here today.”
Brent Cooper, president and CEO of the NKY Chamber of Commerce, said the impact is more than just financial.
"It benefits those industries that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Hospitality, bars, restaurants. Those institutions are critical to not only our economy but our culture, our way of life,” Cooper said.
Across the river, 2020 started out with 23,000 restaurants statewide.
"A year later we estimate about one in five restaurants of those original 23,000 have closed,” said Homa Moheimani, spokesperson for the Ohio Restaurant Association.
The bourbon bottles are gone, but you can get a $15 sample in their tasting room. That money also goes into the relief fund. You can also donate online.