QUEENS, N.Y. - The doors at Neir's Tavern in Woodhaven have been shuttered for more than six weeks but that hasn't stopped the party.
"It is very interesting that one of New York City's oldest bars is now virtually pretty much all online when it comes to customer experience," said Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir's Tavern.
After the city ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving customers in house because of the coronavirus, Gordon started hosting "Bar Talks" which is a virtual happy hour on Zoom.
Quite a shift for a business now more than 190 years old. Gordon has tried to make it as authentic as possible, there's even live music. The virtual gatherings are held every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and began in early April. Each week, Gordon posts a topic for discussion and everyone is invited.
"We do like a round robin, introduce each other and then we get into the meat of it," Gordon said.
This week's focus included Gordon's plans for reopening.
For those who patronize the bar on a regular basis it's a closure that's been strange. To them, the tavern is more than just a watering hole. Glenn Vile and his wife go to Neir's Tavern on Fridays.
"It's become such a social important part of our lives you know that we like to be there. It really is a community gathering place," Vile noted.
Some patrons attend "Bar Talks" with drinks in hand and others show up just to catch up. Some log on with a virtual bar in the background for authenticity.
The experience may not be the same as seeing each other in person but it does offer patrons something familiar, at a time when so much has changed. Kathy Craig has been coming to Neir's Tavern for four years.
"That's my time. That's my thing a lot of things have changed and I wanted that feeling that I got when I walked into Neir's to continue," Craig said.
The online meetings have nothing to do with making a profit, they are just about keeping a community connected.
Each week information on the next "Bar Talk" is posted on the Neir's Tavern Facebook page.