STLFT #1: Quarantine Coffees, More Social Streets & WeWork Doesn't Pay Rent

Hey friends,

Before your biweekly update below, a quick public service announcement launching our first official newsletter with a new initiative we’re running - Quarantine Coffees.

Social distancing has left us all craving interaction. We have so many friends with amazing stories and life experiences, and we want to introduce you all to each other. Sign up, answer a couple questions, and whoever invited you will hook you up with someone we think you’ll get along with for a Quarantine (Virtual) Coffee.

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What We’re Reading - Articles

In case you missed it, Our Own Announcement Post on Medium about what we're doing at Maxwell

Streets More Like Europe?
StreetsBlog suggests we take this opportunity to think about how we make low traffic streets for bikes and pedestrians only. This is something we were thinking about - even once social spaces, bars and restaurants open, they normally operate at 5-10% margins. If, as expected, they are required to have 50-75% of their normal capacity to enforce some level of social distancing, how are they going to survive? We started thinking, what if Mayors of cities used this opportunity to loosen up regulations on streets, allowing restaurants to spill out onto those streets. Win win win, better streets for everyone and more space for restaurants and bars to socially distance. This is kind of how Europe already operates due to more lenient public drinking laws, but it would allow venues to unlock value that is just sitting there.

The places in Britain with the most pubs per square mile revealed ...

WeWork Skips Rent Payments

This is something we’re going to be chatting about more, but apparently major chains like Subway, WeWork and more are stopping paying rent, forcing landlords to renegotiate leases. We’re expecting there to be a decimation of commercial real estate and we’ll write more about this next week.

No More Water Cooler? How will not having in-person coworkers affect our social life? (The Atlantic)
“Working remotely, people are never forced to get a drink after work. You’re not substituting work socialness for community socialness. They are in their own communities.” There is a lot of talk about remote work and it’s affect on things like office spaces, work culture, collaboration, but there is less chat about the fact that the workplace is a core part of many people’s community, one of the few places where they can consistently
What happens when there is no more water cooler to gather around? We believe that this will make 3rd spaces even more important - a world working from home offices will crave a place to run into people even more. Don’t believe me? It’s no surprise that all the early adopters of private clubs like Soho House are freelancers.

Pandemic Escape Communities?
COVID is spawning escape communities of entrepreneurs trying to give themselves some semblance of society and social interaction. Honestly not sure of the value of these - I believe that crises like COVID accelerate change already happening in the world (i.e. the decline of Brick and Mortar, etc.), not fundamentally change the world. If these are intended to be temporary that’s one thing, but I think it’s misguided to think that 6 months from now we’ll have all decided to abandon cities . . .

One of the houses in a Northern California town that Jane Dinh plans to use for her escape community.

Restaurant Gift Certificate Sites Launching Left and Right
The founder of Instagram launched a restaurant gift card site a couple weeks ago. I’ve contributed to a couple of the GoFundMe sites that were sent to me by friends who own bars. But it exposed the fact that each of these bars was reaching out independently and had no real loyalty strategy in play. Has anyone thought about membership programs for bars? Maxwell actually tried to help bars with this at one point and found many of them very uninterested in making any sacrifices that would help build community, award regulars, etc. in favor of selling services to the highest bidder. I’m curious if this changes attitudes.


Orders for Vermouth and other Cocktail fixings are skyrocketing on Drizly
”Customers are buying more of everything, but especially fixings for cocktails, says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. Orders for liqueurs, cordials, schnapps, and mixers are up by 600% to 1,000%. Vermouth is up 1,200%.”

Will COVID cause a decline in Religiosity?

We’re writing a piece we’re calling “COVID is calling your bluff” basically about how trying to sell me a takeaway margarita at the normal markup misses the point that I was willing to pay that markup because of the scene and potential to meet people, not for your amazing margaritas. I think it’s an interesting question to ask- where else is COVID calling our bluff? Is the real reason people stick with religion due to the in-person social ties and sense of identity. I heard a saying the other day, “you join the cult because you identify with the members, and you point to scripture to rationalize it.” Is streaming digital sermons the equivalent of trying to sell me a takeaway margarita - that’s not what you are ACTUALLY paying for?

Your Weekly Upskilling

The Big Book of Gin, great cocktail making book. We’re going to be one of those Drizly stats re Vermouth . . .

The Egg Shop Cooking Book, learning the recipes from one of our favorite spots.

The Cartiers, The complete history of the Cartier family.

Who is Michael Ovitz, the famous agent.


Comic Relief

Guy asks girl out via Drone, goes on date in Bubble, standard love story.

The Meme of the Moment: Ghana Funeral Dancers via VICE.

We thought that there was no better way to launch a newsletter called “Something to Look Forward To” with a cartoon with the clip “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Preach.