ELIZABETH, N.J. — Eat. chill. play. It’s a mantra that has made BarCode in Elizabeth, New Jersey a destination.
Since it opened in 2016, the lively lounge has been bringing in not only the crowds, but some of the biggest performers in music.
“You know you came in here, you had the balloon drop, you had the confetti,” owner Eddy Gomez told PIX11. “It was just a place where the experience was amazing and obviously COVID hits and you get shut down.”
That statewide-mandated shutdown last spring didn’t deter Gomez; instead it propelled him to reinvent his business.
The nightclub — which operated as purely an entertainment venue — made the switch seemingly overnight to become a restaurant.
“You know there were no bars anymore so what did we — we turned our bartenders into waiters,” Gomez explained. “We told them ‘Listen guys either adapt to this, or you’re gonna have to wait around until this industry opens back up.’”
The pivot proved to be a win, creating a scenario the seasoned club owner hadn’t seen pre-COVID.
“Now we have less people but everybody is consuming. Everybody is buying food, everybody’s buying drinks,” he said. “No matter what it was, now they were all accessible to getting service.”
Even before that transition took place, it was a little, secondary business which Gomez operates next door that kept the lights on — a pizzeria called Crust.
“Prior to the pandemic, it was like you know, when you leave the venue, if you’re gonna be hungry at 3 in the morning, I want you to have a place to just go get a slice of pizza,” Gomez said.
When takeout and delivery was the only option for restaurants, Gomez invested all available resources into the tiny, 600 sq. foot shop which ultimately kept his 50,000 sq. foot baby BarCode afloat.
“A lot of people were having their little family gatherings at home, but when they got hungry at 2 a.m., what are you gonna call? Crust pizza was the place to go.”