COVID-19 has taken its toll on some of our favorite eateries, and this crunch has led to some inventive ideas from local business owners hoping to keep customers coming. “Like many other local restaurants, we had to act fast,” says Luis Rabo, owner of We Olive & Wine Bar. For many restaurants, some solutions have worked better than others.
“We have an incredible base of local clientele, but even with their support, our retail and restaurant took a huge hit. We tried to do curbside service, more digital marketing, and huge discounts – anything we could think of to make it. There were definitely a few stressful weeks when my wife and I looked at each other and wondered if we were going to be able to weather this.”
We Olive & Wine Bar’s Houston location opened in the summer of 2017. In addition to the restaurant side of the business, We Olive’s retail side of the business specializes in the sale of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, gifts, dips, sauces, spices, and spreads. With high ratings on review websites like Yelp, the establishment has become a real local favorite. Luis and wife Amber knew they could take advantage of Houston’s warm climate and current traffic conditions to bolster business.
“Then, we had the idea of an outdoor patio,” Luis continues. “Parking hasn’t been an issue due to decreased traffic on 19th Street. We thought if we could create a safe outdoor space for our clients, we can more easily resume our restaurant and wine bar services, which is a huge part of our business model.”
“My wife and I came up with the ’19th Street Wine Garden,’ an outdoor seating area right on 19th Street. We can serve our huge selection of Texas wines, provide full table service from our restaurant, and do olive oil tastings right at the table. It’s been a great hit! We get reservations specifically asking for seating at our outdoor Wine Garden.”
The 19th Street Wine Garden is certainly a sigh of relief for Heights residents and visitors who were missing We Olive & Wine Bar’s delectable menu. The patio consists of 4 – 6 VIP tables and live music on the weekends. Have you missed live music? Because us too.
“The Wine Garden is temporary, since of course once business on 19th Street picks back up, we won’t be able to deny the parking space. But for now, we have had great fun with it and we love providing a safe place for our clients to enjoy what We Olive has to offer,” Luis says.
Outdoor dining has become an important adaptation for restaurants these days, and in many cases, it won’t last beyond the pandemic. That said, now is an excellent time to enjoy the novelty of such an experience. And if you’re concerned about safety, We Olive has covered additional ground to safeguard the health of its customers.
“We know an love this neighborhood, so the support we have received has meant a great deal to us on a personal level.-Luis Rabio, owner of We Olive
“The Wine Garden isn’t our only safety measure – we do everything from temperature checks to social distancing inside our retail shop and restaurant. Our clients are our friends and neighbors, and we take their comfort and safety very seriously,” Luis says.
Diligence and an ability to adapt during difficult times are positive traits in any business, and the 19th Street Wine Garden certainly highlights We Olive’s determination to make the best of those qualities to serve their customers. The Wine Garden has been a huge hit in a community eager to safely get out of the house and enjoy being out and about, and Luis and Amber couldn’t be more grateful of the response.
“All in all, the support that We Olive has received from our community has been tremendous. My wife and I live in this community, we graduated from the University of Houston, our kids go to school in the area, and we attend church just a few minutes away from our location. We know and love this neighborhood, so the support we have received has meant a great deal to us on a very personal level.”
To learn more about We Olive & Wine Bar and their location at 249 West 19th Street Suite B, visit their website. And in case you miss it while scrolling, happy hour is all day Sunday through Tuesday, and from 12:00 PM to 6:30 PM Wednesday through Friday.
We hope you enjoy! We know we will be. When you see us indulging in some cheese and wine, please say hello!