The Rose Bowl Tavern in downtown Urbana has been open since 1946, but it’s never experienced anything quite like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charlie Harris is one of the Rose Bowl’s owners. Illinois Public Media’s Brian Moline spoke with him about what happens when a tavern can no longer be a tavern.
Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline talks with Charlie Harris, co-owner of the Rose Bowl Tavern in downtown Urbana.
“A tavern is a place where people go to enjoy a drink with friends or with a bartender,” Harris said. “That is not what we are (now), so what we have done is, we have the Rose Bowl Bodega, which is a convenience store, and we have RBTV, which is online at all the normal sites, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and RBTV is an arts and creative media company.”
Harris says the Rose Bowl is broadcasting live music via Facebook and other platforms a few times a week.
“Last (Wednesday) night we had the James Jones Trio,” Harris said. “James Jones, according to Facebook, has 4.6 thousand views, which is awesome.”
But he says it’s not generating nearly as much revenue as having the tavern open for business.
“We’ve done ten shows, and we’ve brought in about four thousand dollars total,” Harris said. “We’ve been paying the bands, and we also bought the camera, which is the meat and potatoes.”
Harris says they’ve applied for assistance from the federal and state governments, and from private sources, but none of that money has come through.
“We did make it into a waitlist (for the Paycheck Protection Program),” Harris said, “but we don’t know what that means. Does that waitlist mean that when they say that money has run out that we are part of that? Or does the waitlist mean that they don’t exactly know if that money will get to us? Or does the waitlist mean that we are not included?”
Harris says he’s not sure how long The Rose Bowl can keep operating under the current stay-at-home order.
“All of the variables are changing rapidly,” Harris said. “We don’t know how to calculate if we’re sustainable yet.”
You can find more information on The Rose Bowl’s bodega and RBTV on their Facebook page.