Despite the challenges of an industry hit hard by COVID-19, Fluid Lounge continues to be thankful

TIOGA – You know you’re going through a tough year when someone you don’t even know sends you $200 for groceries. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Stacy Varn.

“I have had people say, I know you’re in the industry, I’ve never been to your bar before, but I wanted to be able to help. They sent me a $200 check for groceries in May. Never met this person! So people are really understanding right now, and really great people,” she says.

Varn is General Manager of Fluid Lounge, a high end cocktail lounge in Tioga Town Center. Fluid has been back open since August.

Stacey Varn Fluid Lounge

“We’re doing our best to make it safe and comfortable, but, please come back. We miss you,” she says.

Varn went through two very tough stretches this year. The first was during the initial shutdown, when Fluid was closed for a month and a half and her claim for unemployment was rejected. (The rejection was corrected later and she did get unemployment with back pay.) The second was the shutdown that ended in August. In spite of those challenges, Varn frequently laughs when she describes what she has had to survive.

Take St. Patrick’s Day, for instance.

“March 17th I remember for unemployment purposes,” she says.

“We were getting ready, we didn’t know, and then the day before they were… ‘You guys are shut down.’

“Before that business was relatively good.”

Varn praises the owners of Fluid.

“Even when COVID-19 hit, they tried to help us out, to the best of their abilities. They do try to take care of us, so we wanted to be able to make money back for them.”

The shutdown that started in mid-March lasted about six weeks. Then there was a breakthrough.

“I got a phone call from the owners, saying they got a small business loan for COVID-19, and that they were going to try to-go cocktails. So we did that until the loan ran out, but by that point it came perfectly to where we were allowed to open again.”

“For three weeks.”

“The governor said, bars are back open, 50% capacity, so it worked out perfectly. We were good to go, we’re abiding by the rules, six feet, everything was good, people were coming back. And then three weeks later, I think, cases went up and he shut us down again.”

That shutdown lasted about three months. Fluid again shifted to to-go drinks with Varn as the only employee.

“I was doing it on Friday and Saturday along with some odd jobs.”

The message Fluid wanted to give was that it is around for the long haul.

“We’re still here. We’re still trying. When things come back we’re going to be here.”

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