After being forced to shut down due to government regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Matt LeMond, co-owner of O’Daly’s Irish Pub, got hit with inspiration while walking the empty downtown Mobile streets.
While eating dinner on an evening in March, LeMond said he was struck by the beauty of the scene.
“It was the most beautiful night ever,” he said. “I decided it was time to figure out what the plan is. We were going to be closed for two to three weeks, and I wanted to figure out what we could do to keep people engaged.”
The solution, he thought, for the Nappie winner for Best LoDa Bar, was to make funny videos with varying degrees of production value, alongside business partner Luke Peavy and others. While not on the highest end of the artform, the videos with characters named Boom and Zoom, played by Peavy and LeMond, were a hit with the pub’s Facebook followers. The first videos were meant to promote O’Daly’s food offerings. LeMond had decided to deliver pizza and give the tips to staff members.
“I love a good theme party,” LeMond said. “We dressed up in black and gold. It sort of spiraled out of control.”
For the curious, Boom and Zoom refer to the nicknames given to New Orleans Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The more svelte LeMond played Zoom and Peavy played Boom in the videos.
At first the pair, with the help of other actors, put out a new video almost every day during the shutdown. After eight weeks and 44 videos, O’Daly’s opened back up May 11.
The production value and creativity of the videos increased as the days and weeks continued, Peavy said. Some of the first videos were shot on a cell phone with little to no editing, while later videos included cuts and graphics to boot.
“It was real last minute for the first few weeks,” Peavy said. “We’d maybe discuss it the night before and talk about writing a script. Usually at 2 p.m. the day of the shoot we’d come up with an idea.”
Many times, the group leaned on movie parodies, like “Titanic,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” or “Home Alone.”
“Whoever suggested the movie would write the script,” Peavy said.
The videos were meant to help lift spirits of those caught in a spiral of bad news due to the pandemic, Peavy said. It was a way to distract from the “‘Groundhog Day’ effect” caused in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We wanted to not make light of it, but bring some light to the situation,” he said. “We wanted to make it fun; make it a bit upbeat.”
The videos also were meant to advertise O’Daly’s pizza. LeMond admitted not everyone equates pizza with an Irish pub, but he urged people to try it because it’s good. He called the pizza the bar’s “best-kept secret,” although since O’Daly’s Hole in the Wall won a Nappie Award for Best Drunk Food, a certain segment of the population is clearly already familiar. And their pizza is now available for curbside pickup, LeMond said.
Peavy said the videos helped open potential customers’ eyes to the fact the bar serves food.
“A lot of people didn’t know we had food,” he said. “I don’t think sales increased necessarily, but it helped with brand awareness.”
Like other bars and restaurants, O’Daly’s has been stung by the pandemic and the regulations foisted upon proprietors in the name of health and safety. LeMond’s biggest concern through the weeks the bar was shut down was the 44 staff members.
“I would sit in my office chair and feel like I’m trying to solve the world’s problems,” he said. “It challenged us to think outside the box.”
Throughout the challenges, LeMond has created a positive motto. He remembers to tell himself and staffers to have “all good days” no matter what. He tries to think of the mantra often.
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