Center City jazz bar pivots to live streaming business model amid COVID-19 restrictions

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Center City restaurant and bar isn't skipping a beat to bring in revenue during Philadelphia's six-week ban on indoor dining. Now, music is the only thing on its menu.

Chris' Jazz Cafe, at 1421 Sansom Street, closed its kitchen and bar all together, and is solely selling subscriptions to live streams of jazz performances from inside the audience-free club. Mark DeNinno is the jazz cafe's owner.

"If you stick to your model pre-pandemic, that is really a recipe for bankruptcy. You have to think of something else," he said. "We were lucky we sold food, booze and music, so we had that one last thing to generate some sort of revenue stream."

So no food or drinks for takeout and no outdoor tables of four, like other establishments are doing.

"Not that I really wanted to, because my block on Sansom Street is a dumpster-lined block," described DeNinno, "so it's not really appealing to be sitting outside."

So it's just the streaming for now, to be enjoyed inside the comfort of your own home.

Tickets cost $10 and monthly subscriptions are available. The local jazz musicians at Chris' are streaming to a worldwide audience.

"In the past, a sold-out night for us would have been 240 tickets to see the show," he said. "There is no sellout any more. It just gets bigger and bigger."

Still, DeNinno looks forward to the day when there is an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and his customers return in person to enjoy dinner, drinks and live jazz.