Interviews with working professionals most affected by the world’s current state.
“My name is Jesse Filkins, I am 35 years old.”
Q. What do you do professionally, Jesse?
Q. How has your role been affected by the COVID-19 most recently?
Working in the Restaurant and Bar industry, it actually brought my professional life to a screeching halt.
Q. How has this affected you personally?
I am a very social person, so not being able to interact with people has taken a mental toll on me. I feed on others’ vibe and energy. I miss peoples’ highs and lows, as in, if a person is vibrant or in a great mood coming into work or joining us as a guest, I miss that.
I also miss if someone comes in down or sad, only because I love being there to help turn their day around and seeing them smile again. I love people. I love vibes. I miss the energy.
Q. When did the gravity of this situation hit you?
Ugh. It’s one of those, “I remember where I was when that happened moments.”
It was Sunday, Governor Pritzker was set to address the state and there was a feeling we all had that the industry was in trouble. We knew that based on St. Patrick’s Day, that the Governor was going to take action. Once declared that all restaurants and bars were to stop operations, I immediately drove to Beatnik to be with my Bonhomme family, and help with any anxiety or stress. It may have been to help myself, as well. I just wanted to be with them.
Q. What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced working during this time?
Not being able to hug my Mom, my sister and my niece. They live in Houston, and I miss them every minute.
Q. What creative methods have you or your workplace thought up to continue serving customers? Anything you’re doing on your own time while not working?
Well, the great leaders of Bonhomme Hospitality have put together a beautiful “Miss your Face” initiative. We are selling gift cards to help with family meals that are given out to over 400 Bonhomme employees multiple times a week, and help with financial aid.
As for my own time, I have given myself daily tasks to try and complete, I’ve done a couple Live Happy Hours, cocktail tutorials, social DTOs as well as cocktail lessons.
Keeping my mind busy is key. I’ve even done an inventory of my cupboards and refrigerator to keep me busy, and also help me think of things I should cook or prepare for others.
I also do stand up comedy for my plants, I don’t get many laughs out of them.
Q. What are your predictions for work in the next 4-6 weeks?
Honestly, in my profession I don’t think we will be able to get going until June. I see myself as an optimist and say May 1st!
But the realist inside of me wants to come back the right way. We want to be safe and healthy. We want to serve and give our guests an escape, a journey, a story to tell. We also want to make sure that we do it with the best interest of the city of Chicago, and the people that join us. I just hope it’s doesn’t go past summer.
Q. What helps you stay positive?
I have a few text threads as well as Zoom meetings and FaceTime with family/friends/coworkers, but honestly, the unknown in a way is kind of positive.
Not knowing what I am going to do next, I can kinda do anything (social distancing applied). I’m using it as fuel and finding motivation to learn new things.
My niece taught me about screen recording (way too excited about that), and I’m going to pick a new language this week to start learning.
I’ve made multiple new dishes, and am reading up on the history of different spirits. Oh and finally watching The Office. I’ve also dusted off an old Super Nintendo, and am working on my boxing skills in Super Punch Out.
Q. What message would you like to send to Beatnik customers?
Simple. We Miss Your Face. We want to come back to be a part of your life again.
I miss your stories, your conversations and your smiles. We will be back soon. I can’t wait to see y’all.
Feel free to leave Jesse a comment below!