After an economically tough summer, Athens Uncorked has set up a GoFundMePage to help with its finances and future upgrades.
The page is an honest request from the Athens Uncorked co-owners, Nate Hayes and Kathy Blake, to anyone who is willing to help out the business. The page has a goal of $20,000 to pay for Athens Uncorked’s rent, catch up on bills and replace worn-out items in the bar. It was created Nov. 2 and has currently raised almost $13,000.
“The GoFundMe was basically, in all honesty, to help us get over a really bad summer,” Hayes said. “We had a not great beginning of autumn too.”
Athens Uncorked receives only about half the amount of business during the summer as it does during its winter months, Hayes said.
Although many businesses struggle in the summer, Athens Uncorked faces a unique challenge. Its greatest business comes during the winter season due to the coziness of the restaurant and tendency of customers preferring to drink wine in the winter, Hayes said.
“A lot of businesses do well in the summer and when it's really nice outside,” Hayes said. “There's a direct correlation between how cold is outside and how busy we are.”
This year, in particular, has also had the added challenge of a short transition between fall and winter.
“The unfortunate part about that … is that this past autumn, October was really hot. It was in the 90's for the first three weeks. So we had a really, really, really bad October,” Hayes said. “The GoFundMe was basically just trying to get a little bit ahead because we were kind of missing our beginning of the fall season, basically.”
Hayes said he is also hoping to expand sometime in the near future, with the offering of tapas -- smaller, higher quality appetizers -- as well as a larger expansion of alcohol.
“It seems that most places are really trying to expand into almost like a one-stop, where … people can get everything they want from a location,” Hayes said. “So I really feel that my bar needs to expand that direction. I would like to eventually have a full liquor license and several … beers on draft.”
There is also hope for renovations to give the place a new feel, Hayes said.
“I think we're due for a refresh,” Hayes said. “You know, this place hasn't really changed since we opened it almost five years ago, so I'm thinking some brighter colors, … brighter furniture, just kind of giving it a new look.”
The support from patrons and friends didn’t come from any incentivization, Hayes said.
“It really was just a plea … to the community to say, ‘hey we've had a hard time and if you can, just donate money,’” Hayes said.
Some residents of Athens highly value the services Athens Uncorked provides for the community.
“I love going to uncorked,” Eszti Major-Rohrer, interim manager of academic tech at Ohio University, said. “I enjoy how inclusive it is and the events that they're hosting.”
One of Major-Rohrer’s favorite events was the book club, where she always felt included and free to speak her feelings.
“Anyone who was participating was welcome. Everyone's opinion was welcome,” Major-Rohrer said. “The owner was a very skilled facilitator in making sure everyone is heard, but no one is hurt.”
Major-Rohrer said that welcoming ambiance extends beyond the book club, too.
“I enjoy the fact that it's a quiet place with a great ambiance. Very good conversations, a great place for people to meet,” Major-Rohrer said, “I feel welcome when I go there. I'm a professional. I work here, (I am) no longer a student. (At Athens Uncorked), I don't feel I have to be on guard on who I am or what I buy. It’s just convenient and it's very professional.”
Others, like Rafal Sokolowski, an assistant professor of film at Ohio University, felt that it was important to have businesses focused on the noncollege student crowd as well.
“I think that it's preferred by my observation by slightly more mature target audience … and certainly being a faculty here on campus, that is important to be able to escape the social scene that is populated by students,” Sokolowski said.