Seven years ago, Cesar Rodriguez of Algonquin said a friend had a wedding and was looking to see if anyone knew of a cheap bartending option for the party.
He said he volunteered to do it for free as a wedding present.
“I realized how much fun it was to do this,” Rodriguez said. “You’re tired of working for someone else. Why not just open your own thing?”
Fast forward to earlier this year, in March, Rodriguez partnered with Megan Leuthold to form Happy Hours Bartending, a mobile bartending service that comes to private businesses or homes, bringing “everything but the alcohol,” including cleaning and cocktails.
For Leuthold, the decision to start the business was a lifeline and a “tremendous pivot,” she said, after a tumultuous few months in which her husband, Dean Kramer, died and Leuthold closed her former business, Remark Home Maintenance Services , had to close.
Both Rodriguez and Leuthold said they have worked in the service and restaurant industry for years — Leuthold the past decade and Rodriguez the past 20 years. Rodriguez also tried to open a restaurant before the pandemic put an end to the attempt.
But Rodriguez said he thinks the pandemic, among other things, has helped usher in a new business model for party planning and hosting, one in which hearts replace banquet halls.
“No one goes to the squares anymore [for events]”, said Rodriguez. “Some places are afraid of having too many people or too much inside. I thought now was the perfect time to strike with our mobile bartending. Let’s go to them.”
The Happy Hours service offers everything for a full bar: cups, ice, straws, mixers, napkins, and various seasonal cocktail mixes and purees.
Since March, Happy Hours Bartending has served drinks at various events, including weddings, birthdays and even a party at a dog grooming place where customers came with all their dogs.
Currently, the store staffs six other bartenders and can do up to four parties at a time, Rodriguez said, adding that although they “go as far as someone is willing to pay,” the company’s radius is typically within 90 minutes of Northwest. Suburbs.
Leuthold said they expect to have a very busy holiday season, especially in December, and have already booked several weddings for next year.
“We hope to stay busy for the next month,” Rodriguez said. “And make families happy this year.”