Since 2017, Les Caves has drawn wine aficionados down its 18-seater bunker bar for a taste of both regional and international wines. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, co-owner Jeff Vejr had to close up shop in March 2020, but he still found ways to serve by selling and delivering curated wine bundles all around the Portland metro area. In August of 2021, Les Caves returned to the scene, reopening with a surprise sister concept: Le Clos. A far cry from its subterranean sister, the outdoor patio bar not only provided a new, open concept with natural light, but it allowed Vejr to reopen with safety in mind. We chatted with Vejr about how he used Tock to come back stronger.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you had to close Les Caves in March of 2020. How were you able to sustain business during this period?
We closed down on March 16th, 2020, a full week before the Oregon state mandate was put into effect. I gave myself a few days to absorb the rapidly changing world around me and to mourn the closing of our beloved bar. Then I spent another two days figuring out how I wanted to continue to serve our customers and community. I spent another two days building out an online store and contacting all of my distributors to see who was willing to work with me on this new model. I built an entire new business from top to bottom in six days and launched our first online wine pack offering on March 22nd. The support we received from that first offering and our new business model was overwhelming. To this day, it is one of my proudest moments at Les Caves. I spent over a year building out themed wine packs and delivering them throughout the Portland Metro area. We never stopped serving, we were just providing it in a different way.
When you were planning your reopening of the space, what new things did you want to bring to the table?
In the past, people would be packed in our bar like sardines. This was obviously not an option anymore. We wanted to provide some form of orderly and controlled seating arrangement so that people would feel more comfortable and safe knowing that they had a guaranteed seat. Partnering with Tock to help us manage our customer flow was critical for us before reopening.
How have you used Tock to help supplement your business since reopening?
We were a very popular bar before the pandemic, and we knew that popularity might keep people away. With the help of Tock, we were able to keep our seatings controlled and managed so that our customers would feel safe and not overcrowded.
You were finally able to reopen Les Caves in August of 2021. What did it feel like on opening day?
It was a magical night, very humbling. We knew how special Les Caves was to our community, and we worked very hard to put ourselves in a position to be able to reopen once again. But we had a big surprise for our returning customers—we built Le Clos, an entirely new outdoor wine bar on the premises.
With the help of Tock, we were able to keep our seatings controlled and managed so that our customers would feel safe and not overcrowded.
What kind of experience can guests expect at Le Clos?
We built Le Clos because we were unsure that we would ever get to reopen Les Caves. Les Caves seats 20. It is very small and intimate—that’s the allure. But when the requirements to reopen were keeping six feet away from another guest and ample room to move around, we couldn’t meet any of those demands. So, we got creative and built an outdoor wine bar.
What is the future for Les Caves x Le Clos?
To continue our commitment to our goal of sharing the world of wine with our guests!