PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - As restaurants are getting used to a new way of doing business in the wake of COVID-19, one Portland restaurant had to change operations faster than anyone could have anticipated.
Bar King opened in southeast Portland on Monday, March 9th. By Friday, the restaurant was shut down and its entire staff was laid off.
It was an extremely stressful week for owner Shaun King who could have never expected he’d be opening a restaurant amid a global pandemic.
“We couldn’t have prepared for this. We prepared for everything else,” King said.
King’s culinary career had led to the opening of Bar King.
“It’s like the birth of a child, you know,” said King.
King and his wife are new to the Portland area and wanted to open a restaurant that captured the spirit of the city. They worked with local artists to create one of a kind pieces for the establishment.
“It’s a place you can come in, get a burger, get a beer, get a rack of ribs, but also we want this place to be a gathering place,” King said.
As the opening date for Bar King neared, the writing was on the wall. Restaurants all around the country were opting, or in some cases, ordered to close to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We were kind of hoping it would not hit us and we’d be this bubble and we’d deflect everything, but we knew it was happening,” King said.
In the same week that Bar King trained its brand-new staff, it also had to let them go.
“That’s been the most emotional thing. I couldn’t even talk to my staff, I was crying and emotional,” said King.
King had to completely adjust the way he did business, transitioning to take-out orders only.
To do this, King creates a menu each week and offers family-style take-out orders. He posts what is available each day on their Instagram page @barkingpdx.
Everything is cooked in a large smoker by King himself now. His wife processes all the orders.
King says he knows this won’t be forever and Bar King will one day open again to its full potential.
“I love the idea of us all getting together, breaking bread, giving each other hugs and high fives,” King said.
Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.