In mid-March of 2020, the whole world stood frozen in an eerie present. The pandemic meant the engine of our 74-year-old family business screeched to a halt and the road ahead was unknowable on a scale we'd never felt.
Within 48 hours, our management team had put together a plan for Phase One that involved a complete overhaul of our operations. We began offering take out and delivery to 10 towns in the community. By April, we added the sale of Provisions and began delivering groceries.
From 80 employees in February, we were
down to 25 at the end of March.
Front-of-house bartenders, servers, hosts and bussers became delivery drivers, answered phones or packaged up to go meals while our back-of-house crew adapted our kitchen and our menu for delivery.
The work was a strange combination of exhilarating and exhausting. We were energized by the challenge to innovate for survival. But we were never more tired as we pivoted from constant reinvention each day.
We all took turns losing our composure. More importantly, we all came back to start again.
As the weeks unfolded, Innkeeper Alison Tocci first thought of making a video to help spread the word that Bull Run could offer grocery delivery to the community. She began taking photos of the empty dining rooms repurposed to store, weigh, measure and package over 300 items on offer, from the ever popular yeast, to Delmonico steaks.
After one particularly long day, she came home to find an email from Ed Collier. A mutual friend had given Ed her name and he reached out to ask if he might photograph the Innkeepers for a series on how locals were weathering the pandemic.
After several conversations in the empty restaurant, the proposed photography shoot morphed into a video. The goal, according to Alison, was to document "not only the moment we were in as a multi-generational business, but how all of us adapt over the years."
Ed filmed what he saw: the Egopantis sporting a mask, the staff working together under mandated restrictions, the empty Sawtelle stage with a lone mic still standing, and the evidence of so many special occasions in the now empty space.
By June, Phase 2 was announced and we put our collective creativity to the test once again. We hired back all the available staff and
re-imagined our existing outdoor space.
The Six Feet Away Outdoor Cafe was born.
We hope that you see in our 'This Tavern' video a glimpse of what we felt and witnessed:
the resilience of staff who hold the line,
the vendors who have our back, and the incredible community of customers,
neighbors and friends whose support has renewed and sustained us.
We are truly grateful. THANK YOU.
Photographer & Videographer
Professional photographer Ed Collier shot,
edited and produced our This Tavern video
over the course of a few weeks in May 2020.
Ed, like many of us, was realigning and channeling his creative talents to adapt to the pandemic. He was working on photography projects to keep himself moving and document scenes from the times. He got in touch with the Innkeepers and shared his "After This" project to see if we might be interested.
Our first meeting led to many conversations about the long history of Bull Run and framing what was happening to our business today in the context of that longevity.
Ed's professionalism and sensitivity made working with him truly a pleasure.
ED COLLIER BIO
Ed Collier , or "Special" as his FirstDescents.org friends have nicknamed him, has been a hard working, professional photographer for more than 20 years. After learning some incredibly valuable skills as a staff photographer at a large Indiana newspaper, Ed set out on his own in September of 2004, and hasn’t looked back since. Based just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Ed has photographed a wide variety of subjects all over the United States, and spends about a quarter of the year on the road. Ed works efficiently, quickly, affordably, and always with a sense of humor. Over the last few years, Ed has slightly narrowed his work focus, targeting his passions: higher education, clean energy, and working with smaller organizations and non-profits to create dynamic imagery that helps them grow and communicate their message.
To learn more about Ed Collier Photography,
please visit his website:
To capture the emotional feeling of what the visuals evoked, Alison turned to her musician husband and co-Innkeeper, George Tocci.
He can be heard playing his original composition on piano in the video.
George played snippets of several different pieces he had written for Alison and Ed. They both immediately reacted to the song you hear in the video. When they asked the name of it, he told them though he had written it years ago, he'd always called it "Theme For A Movie."
Dede Recko, a ballet instructor, choreographer and veteran of many performance recordings, provided the voice-over for the video.
Although Alison wrote the words and made a stab at recording, she didn't like the sound of her own voice for the project.
"Unfortunately, I didn't inherit my mother's voice-over talent, but I knew my sister did."
Fittingly, the "green room" for our performers at Bull Run served as the recording studio.
With less than a half-hour's notice and never having seen the words or the video, true to form, Dede nailed it in a few short takes.
You Know This Tavern
This Tavern remembers
The elation of each wedding day
The pride of accomplishment
And the festive family celebrations
Are woven into this tavern's history
The comfort of shared meals
The transcendent joy of live entertainment
And the unaffected wonder of children
Are this tavern's soul
Our struggles, our celebrations
And our history is intertwined
This tavern adapts
This community finds a way
Our changes and yours are connected
You know this tavern
Together we made history
Together we move forward
Local. Since 1740.