October 25, 2021

The Zig amid pandemic restrictions

Capital’s long-time favorite local bar, the Zig, was one of the many businesses that was affected due to COVID-19. If you go out, the Zig is a regular for many college students and locals. For me, a college student, the Zig is a nice, affordable place to stop in after a long day of classes or work. For others, such as the locals, it’s a nice consistent place to go weekly. This routine order changed once COVID-19 started to impact the entire world.

Photo by Geramee Hensley.

The Zig was closed from March 15th to the end of May. They reopened in May with a 24 person capacity with normal hours, open from 3pm to last call being at 2am. Because of these restrictions, everyone’s favorite features, including the free popcorn and hot sauce, Monday night karaoke, and Tuesday night trivia were put on pause. However, the weekly deals continued which include Monday night $3 Three Olives, $4 Flights on Tuesdays (with slight alteration), $2 Wells on Wednesdays, $3.50 Jack and $4 Vegas Bombs on Thursdays, $3 Fireball on Fridays, and $3 everyday Dos Equis.

At the end of July, the Zig opened up to a 40 person capacity with a 12 p.m. opening and 10pm curfew, which is the current state of the bar as well.

Stan Israel, two-year Zig bartender, continued to work during this transitional period. 

Fortunately, Stan had another job, but for others, it was their only source of income.

“It’s been a lot slower and not too many people have been coming in, Israel said. “However, when we had the 24 person capacity, I did not have issues with over capacitation.”

He said that sales were cut down for him Mondays and Tuesdays, (karaoke and trivia nights, respectively). Since this cut down, he has noticed a lack of the regulars due to COVID, because of their own health problems. If he does see them, it’s rare and they only stay for a drink or two. 

Eric Miller, two-year Zig bouncer, was affected as well because this was the only place he worked. However, he believes that business has been picking up recently and will continue to pick up in the near future. 

Eric Miller

“It seems as if people are getting tired of the shutdowns and are starting to come out more. However, it still depends on the restrictions that are put in place,” Miller said. 

Justin Lee, 14-month Zig bartender and bouncer, gives his insight on how much the bar has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“Zig life has changed drastically,” Lee said. “The stipulations around bartending have deeply impacted the way I do things. Everything from cleaning deeply after each patron, to wearing a mask all day, the challenges I’ve faced have been a tall order.” 

Along with Israel and Miller, Lee believes that the current state is steady. He still sees the regulars who support the bar regardless of the ongoing conditions. Because of this, he has not lost much income.

“I have personally experienced a steep decline in the amount of customers, but not a decline in the amount of money made,” he said. 

Just this past weekend for Halloween, Lee held a Halloween party at the Zig that included games and drink specials while maintaining pandemic regulations. He still had to limit the amount of people, but believed the party was nothing short of excellence.

Aside from the reductions, there have been some new additions to the Zig. A new drink menu has been added with 6 different white claw mixers and a moscow mule. They also have added a new food partner called Tanks Ironclad Meats, who sets up shop Thursdays through Saturday, normally starting to sell around 3 or 4 p.m. They sell a whole, half, and quarter chicken with sides of cheesy potatoes, coleslaw, and baked beans. Coming soon within the next couple of weeks, they will be selling pork and possibly brisket. 

Tanks Ironclad Meats’s menu.

There are other talks of additions to the Zig. There is talk about a cool vending machine with funny items such as weird gag items. They have also added sprinklers for the back patio. 

“Truth be told, we added sprinklers, and I thought they were for the flowers, however, they were really to water the people”, Israel said.

Although the Zig has had its ups and downs due to the pandemic, it remains open and steady. The Zig staff continues to make ends meet, regardless of ongoing conditions. 

“Right now, we are taking it day by day. We are putting our heads down and plowing through the possible upcoming challenges and hoping that things turn out for the better,” Lee said.

All and all, the Zig is still open and taking the proper COVID precautions. If you want affordable drinks and food, come out and support this all time favorite local business during this time of change. It is located close to the intersection of College and Livingston avenues. 

  • Bianca is a triple major in sociology, criminology, and Spanish, treasurer of the Criminology and Sociology club, America Reads tutor, along with her position as a reporter for the Chimes.

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