Cobi Levy, serial NYC restaurant entrepreneur, is constantly reinventing himself. It should come as no surprise that the Butter and Act II Hospitality alum thinks that, despite the obvious downsides, the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for restauranteurs to rethink dining in NYC. Currently, Levy is focused on bridging the gap between the world of traditional NYC fine dining and a more inclusive attitude, accounting for the new challenges COVID-19 presents.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Levy realized he needed to reinvent his restaurants, even his newly opened Lola Taverna. Levy’s versatile genius as well as quick action put himself and his partner Will Makris in the perfect position to thrive during the pandemic. The Lola Taverna partners were intent on staying open despite many restaurants closing up shop at the beginning of the COVID uncertainty. Levy took on the leadership burden. First and foremost, thinking of his employees, Levy put made sure the restaurant safety standards were top of the line and that everyone working at the restaurant felt safe and comfortable. After rallying the team to make sure the morale was high, Levy got creative. Not only did Lola Taverna stay open throughout the early COVID lockdowns, Levy and Makris actually launched an all out marketing offensive in order to get on people’s radar and stay in the news.
Illustrating their expertise and design genius, throughout the pandemic, even at the start of the lockdowns, Lola Taverna offered ‘takeout with a twist.’ Lola Taverna partners realized that their restaurant was perfectly located next to the beautiful Father Fagan Park. Before the NYC outdoor dining situation was finalized, Lola Taverna actually offered their customers portable tables and chairs to take to eat their food in the park. Not only did this keep business going for Lola Taverna throughout the ups and down of the beginning of the pandemic, but they actually struck summer social media gold. ‘Takeout with a twist’ at Father Fagan Park became a sought after early quarantine Soho activity. Lola Taverna customers would flaunt their delicious food, refreshing drinks, and cute makeshift yet comfortable quarantine picnic experience. Due to their clever marketing, Lola Taverna was able to grow their park-restaurant idea to over 200 people, while most of the other restaurants were closed. Not only did this find social media success, but it enticed the average bystander to stop their daily walks and order take out from Lola Taverna to eat in the park.
By the time NYC officially relaxed outdoor dining restrictions and started opening up more and more. Lola Taverna had all the momentum they needed to hit the ground running. Levy and Lola Taverna immediately set up a lovely outdoor dining environment. Lola Taverna’s wide outdoor perimeter not only allowed Levy to open up a significant amount of seating, but it also allowed Levy to get creative. Lola Taverna boasts an elaborate flower bedded nature oasis encompassing the entirety of the outdoor dining area. Due to their incredible menu, early marketing savvy, as well as their beautiful outdoor dining accommodations, Lola Taverna is completely booked from open to close.
Clearly, Levy’s and Makris’s creativity and shrewd marketing have paid off. With a little bit of luck and Levy’s leadership and deep entrepreneurial expertise, Lola Taverna has actually grown their business during COVID-19. After watching Levy grow and continue to reinvent himself over the course of his career as well as the after seeing the incredible job he has done with Lola Taverna in the last few months, we are very excited to see what Levy has in store for Lola Taverna next.