CLEVELAND — It's been a tough year for the event industry with the coronavirus pandemic putting restrictions on mass gatherings.
But the team at The Madison in Cleveland found a way to keep the party going by transforming part of their space into a cozy winter hang out.
No one loves a good party more than Chris Jespersen.
“I mean, that's why we do what we do, to host these amazing celebrations,” Jespersen said.
He hosts them all at The Madison, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse turned event venue he bought four years ago with his wife, Brooke.
“Weddings, we have corporate events, galas, we have fashion shows, birthday parties, quinceaneras,” Jespersen said. “Man, business before the pandemic was amazing.”
But since the pandemic, Jespersen said they’ve been making things work with COVID-19 restrictions.
“We try to come to like a nice compromise in the middle and say, okay, how can we make this event happen with the restrictions that there are,” Jespersen said. “We've still been having parties throughout. We're one of the few venues that can hold 300 people socially distanced so you know it's still been fun.”
But overall, it's still been tough.
“We definitely suffered. I mean, I think anyone in the event industry did,” Jespersen said.
To further make up for those COVID losses and get creative with their abundance of space, back in November, Jespersen and his team transformed their back patio by bringing in greenhouses for a pop up cocktail bar they call WinterHaus.
Every Friday and Saturday night through the end of March, guests can reserve two-hour sessions at WinterHaus for up to four people per cabin.
$25 per person covers cocktails and snacks with physical contact being kept to a minimum.
“The coolest part, I think, it's all text based so when you go out there you get a text message and you can order from your phone,” Jespersen said.
Jespersen said the response has been overwhelming.
“We've been pretty much sold out every weekend. We've had people coming back, bringing new friends, playing games. So that's been super exciting to see. I mean, people really like this, people want to get out and they want to do it in a safe way,” Jespersen said. “This has been a great source of income, it’s a fun thing to do.”
And while it's helping out with the bills, it's also helping Jespersen and his team get back to what they love doing.
“My job and the thing that we all love in the event industry is happy people - that's why we do it. So this has given a little bit of joy to everyone,” Jespersen said. “COVID has been terrible for all businesses and I get that but, I think we hear across the board there’s been some silver linings for everyone and this is one of them for us.”
WinterHaus is accepting reservations for Friday and Saturday nights through the end of March. Jespersen and his team plan to bring it back seasonally, every November through March.
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