Like many other small business owners, Candace Viox has spent much of the past two weeks tap dancing.
First, she rearranged the chairs and tables at Water Into Wine Bistro & Lounge to accommodate Knox County’s directive that limited seating to half of capacity. Then, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee superseded the county’s mandate by closing all bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery. The savvy restaurant owner responded by putting together an online menu and figuring out how to offer takeout service.
Viox initially thought she’d be closed due to her high percentage of alcohol sales, but when she added in catering sales, she qualified to offer takeout service. While Lee’s order nearly shut her down, it was also her saving grace. She can temporarily sell unopened bottles of wine and cocktails along with food orders. Alcohol can’t be sold on its own.
As of the writing of this story, Viox had only been open for takeout service for three days. Looking at her proceeds from the second day, she reported that sales were down 36 percent. But she thinks her numbers will improve as more people learn about her offerings.
“Once people in the community know we’re open and we can provide their favorite food and cocktails, our sales are going to go back up,” she says.
Her new menu is available at waterintowineknoxville.com/. It offers small portions that feed one or two and large portions that feed four to six. She also offers “loophole” cheese and salami boards so customers can order a small portion of food with alcohol purchases. The menu includes new wines and cocktails every day. Cocktail mixers are hand-batched daily, she says.
Her efforts to create a viable business model during the pandemic are for her employees as much as for herself. She’s gone from 15 staff members to nine, but none were let go. The “unbelievable” support of the community will make it easier to support her employees. Farragut Rotary members and the Farragut West Knoxville Chamber have been especially supportive, along with local businesses that have placed large orders.
Her regular customers have embraced takeout service. Many of them rely on Water Into Wine for boutique wines they can’t find anywhere else, she says.
“The community has been absolutely amazing, and the tips! My servers only make $2.13 per hour, so they have to have the tips to keep going, and people are tipping 20, 30 and 40 percent. I love our Farragut community!”
Water Into Wine is one of several Farragut restaurants currently offering takeout or drive-through service. Supporting your favorite restaurant now might be what enables it to return to business as usual when normal life resumes. For a list of Farragut restaurants that are offering food service at this time, click here.
Farragut restaurants don’t just provide our favorite food and drink; they also create tax revenue for the town that is used to build roads, support our schools and provide essential services. This is just the excuse you need to take a break from cooking and pick up a delicious meal from a Farragut restaurant.
Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.