Quarantini anyone? Couple grows charity business – restaurant industry in crisis – cleveland.com

Restaurant News

BAINBRIDGE, Ohio – When Dave Ocker and Kyah Fernandez found themselves out of work recently they decided to mix things up.

As in drinks.

Coronavirus restrictions affected the couple like many people in the restaurant business. Fernandez was furloughed from her restaurant general-manager job, and Ocker was laid off from his bar job. What started as a way to use time wisely and to give back to front-line workers looks to be the basis of a growing business for the Bainbridge couple.

They are blending and delivering Dave’s Quarantinis, a variety of mixed drinks with proceeds going to help workers in the coronavirus fight.

“We’ve been able to give back,” Ocker said. “We’re really fortunate we can give back to hospitals, doctors, police and fire,” he said.

Ocker’s idea has grown from creativity, a bit of frustration and a will to help.

“We were watching the news day in and day out,” Fernandez said. “After our third week in the stay-at-home order, just seeing the stories and seeing how exhausted the front-line workers are, it just really touched us. We just couldn’t sit around and watch the news anymore. We’re used to working very busy schedules.”

That led them to wonder how to get their local community involved.

“Within a couple of days it started catching fire,” she said. “We were able to give back more and more.”

It’s really a twofold approach: The couple works with Chagrin Falls-based Face Mask Makers Ohio. That group uses donations to buy materials to create thousands of masks, Ocker and Fernandez said. And the couple is supporting local restaurants, buying and donating meals to local hospitals, police and fire departments, and clinics.

For the line of drinks, the couple is delivering 9-ounce portions in 10-ounce bottles, with top-shelf liquor and mixers. They recently received a non-profit designation from the state and are 100 percent donation-based. Bottles sell for $10.

“We wanted to keep it simple and affordable and something fun,” Fernandez said.

“We’re seeing we can take it statewide and possibly nationwide to be able to give back to as many people as possible. We have people reaching out from Chicago and Michigan and different states and asking how they can be a part of it,” said Fernandez, who said social media and word-of-mouth is helping spread the message.

There’s no third-party delivery, though an app in the future might lead to more efficient delivery, and a possible retail space could offer a chance to expand.

The couple’s efforts even caught the eye of local public-relations representative Michelle Venorsky, who is offering her services pro bono to promote the couple’s efforts.

“We’ve got a lot of plans ahead of us,” Dave said. “We are planning a 12-month, a five-year, a 10-year plan. I can tell you in 12 months no one can tell you where we’re going to be as a society.”

But he added “if we’re out of this Covid-19 tunnel that we’re in” they hope to “keep our business model as far as philanthropy goes and keep giving back to the community.”

“Our hopes are that our non-profit will be a response for front-liners anywhere in the country where there’s a disaster or anything bad has happened,” Ocker said. “We want to be able to support local business with our donations and provide whatever it is – whether it is gear, equipment or food, shelter – whatever it is these people need. So we want this to be a forever thing. We’re just trying to gain more traction so we can help more people, to try to bring a smile to people’s faces who live in an otherwise miserable place because they are forced to live in unfortunate circumstances.”

Ocker sees the quarantinis has growing out of the coronavirus era the way martinis got a boost during Prohibition, he said.

Their line offers more than martinis: They added margarita flavors for Cinco de Mayo, and also have a Long Island “with a Cleveland twist” and Irish whiskey.

“We’re trying to keep everyone happy,” Fernandez said.

Dave’s Quarantinis

• Dirty martini

• Peach martini

• Lemon drop

• Blueberry lemonad

• Espresso

• Classy Cosmo

• LUV-tini (vodka, Champagne combo)

• CLE-tini (a spin on a Long Island)

• Mama’Rita (tequila)

• Green-tea-ni (whiskey)

• La-La Lavender

• Very Berry

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