For Guac y Margys, surviving a pandemic is all about ‘FaM’

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The guys who brought gay patio fun to the Atlanta Beltline were ramping up for a busy spring when the world changed with the spread of coronavirus and the shuttering of businesses. They had to adapt their game plan, and they got by with a little help from their friends.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings that start with, ‘OK, now what do we do?’” the owners of Guac y Margys told Project Q. “When answering that question, we always ask ourselves what’s best for the GyM FaM — the name we affectionately give to our employees. They’re a fantastic group of people who have been amazing through all of this, and we are very grateful for them.”

With some payroll assistance from Congress and a lot of planning, the three owners — Troy Meyers, Sebastian Romano and David Barton (photo, l-r) —  and the staff of their “lively, spirited fun” eatery got through a total shutdown in March and April.

They are used to making things work since their 2018 opening, so they weren’t down for long. Online ordering with delivery and curbside pickup came just before the official easing of state restrictions in May. Distanced seating on the patio came later, but damage was done to the usual spring and summer hub of gay leisure time.

“We miss our events — we hosted 172 events in 2019 — and giving our regulars a big ol’ hug,” the owners said. “But we are making the best of the current situation and remain optimistic about the future.”

For the moment, the future and new normal at Guac y Margys includes the aforementioned distancing and to-go services, masks except for those actively eating and “a lot of disinfectant and constant cleaning,” according to Barton, Meyers and Romano. They even have QR-code menus so customers don’t touch a physical menu.

“Our staff has been amazing through all of this,” the GyM guys said. “Thankfully, we have been able to keep the GyM FaM on board through all of this. We have had a few customers who refuse to wear a mask, but 99 percent of guests have been very understanding and respectful.”

Things aren’t back to normal, and 2020 may be a wash, but Guac y Margys will survive to host more RuPaul watch parties and Britney Bday Brunches, they said. In fact, they have a few ideas up their sleeves and look forward to the day they can implement them.

“We are even considering expansion sometime in the future, but we are seeing how things go,” they said. “We are really looking forward to the day when we can get back to doing what we do best — being the place to go to hang out with your friends and make new ones while sipping on a margarita and munching on some chips and guac.”

In the meantime, they will continue to strive for a safe and healthy space to get out of the house for a meal or a cocktail — and be the people who find silver linings even in a global pandemic.

“If there’s one thing COVID has taught us, it’s to be flexible and to appreciate the people around us,” they said. “We would not exist without the LGBTQ community. That is no exaggeration. While we have a very diverse customer base, the LGBTQ community has supported Guac y Margys from the very beginning.”

Guac y Margys is on the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline, 661 Auburn Ave. Visit guacymargys.com and order at gymtakeout.com.

Photo by Russ Bowen-Youngblood

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