Dozens of people show up virtually for Casino Beach Bar & Grill, Drift happy hour

Saturday 18th April 2020

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) -- Friday night, dozens of people from across the country tuned in a to Zoom call and raised a toast to a bit of normalcy.

Casino Beach Bar and Grille and Drift, both owned by Matt LaFon, have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, like thousands of businesses across the country.

LaFon has had to lay off workers, something he says was hard to do. The restaurant and bar is serving beachside food pickup, but it is not making nearly as much in sales as it would during a normal spring.

So, if it can't be open, LaFon decided he'd put together a virtual happy hour for his customers.

"The social interaction is what everyone is missing right now," LaFon said. "That's what we provide is a social experience here at our places, and we can't do that live right now so we figured we'd do it over the web."

During the Zoom call, attendees could see views of Pensacola Beach from Drift. Attendees drank beers or other beverages and smiled at others who wore funky hats.

The virtual call also served as a fundraiser for healthcare workers at the front lines fighting the virus.

"We basically also doing this to earn money to feed health care workers and first responders," LaFon said. "Everybody who logs on today, we will donate a dollar toward meals to feed the health care workers."

The virtual happy hour was originally marketed as an attempt to break a Gusiness World Record for the largest virtual happy hour ever. However, LaFon told News 5 staff couldn't find a record for that. So, it's unclear if any records were broken Friday night.

LaFon said if he was able to bring people together and make their day a little bit better, he is satisifed.

"The happy hour is just one more thing to raise people's spirits up and see some faces they haven't seen in awhile," he said.

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