“We are proud to stand with Jessica and honored to be able to match her $2,500 worth of bottle collection with a $2,500 grant. These are real people who have sacrificed everything to open a business, and are now sacrificing everything else to keep it going. Please continue to donate, share, and amplify as much as possible so that we can keep doing whatever we can to help whoever we can. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the help thus far!” –Maine Music Alliance (MEMA)
Q&A w/ MEMA & Flask Owner
MEMA: When/why did you open Flask Lounge?
JESSICA: Flask Lounge opened in November 2007 when I was 27. My goal was to open a neighborhood sports bar, serving homemade pub-style food and welcoming everybody. I quickly discovered my vision for Flask was not in line with the Portland community’s hopes. Only months after opening, the disco ball returned, and we were dancing, singing (def not me), rocking out, and hosting events of everything in between.
MEMA: How did the idea for the bottle drive come about?
JESSICA: Since the pandemic started, our Resident Dj’s and Musicians have been streaming online fundraisers and encouraging donations via our website to help us with operating costs. It’s hard to ask for money, especially when so many people are struggling financially. The bottle drive was an idea I could accomplish as one person and offered a way for people who wanted to help us do so creatively. It gave me purpose and a mission. It’s a little out of the ordinary, but so is Flask.
MEMA: Describe your day when you do your bottle route?
JESSICA: The response was incredible. In one month, I completed 100+ stops from Augusta to Sanford and collected $2,500 worth of returnables. Masked up and gloves on, I met amazing people along the way, some of whom have never been to Flask: “I have a friend that loves your bar, and it means a lot to them. I’ve always heard great things, so I wanted to donate.”
MEMA: Describe the financial reality of your business currently (to the extent you’re comfortable doing so).
JESSICA: The apparent burden is having no financial income to cover costs while being closed for a time unknown. There’s been no insight, even after emailing Governor Mills and the City of Portland. Are we waiting for a vaccine? Why are liquor licenses not being pro-rated? We need truth and straightforward updates to mentally, emotionally, and financially prepare for our futures.
I am at risk of losing staff who I love. The staff, dj’s, and musicians are the cement that keeps Flask solid and growing. Wondering what’s next and whether I should sell Flask, I have spent the last six months preparing and educating myself toward a new career.
MEMA: What is your favorite memory of Flask?
JESSICA: There have been far too many amazing memories to choose just one. But my absolute favorite part of Flask is the lifelong friendships built between those bricks, including the many friends I have made along the way.
MEMA: What is your dream first show back?
JESSICA: I am most excited about a full rotation of ALL our resident events: Karaoke, Open Dj Night, Sundaze, Monday of the Mondays, Love, Foundation, Friction, Black Friday, Primary, Shank Painters, Rewind, Mainely House, Future Classic, Coven Club (formerly Sub/Merge), Retro Night, Flannel, ThumpDay, Cherry Lemonade (Drag Show), No Gimmicks, As Above So Below Events, Bass Faces, and more!
While I’m extremely eager to reopen, I will only do so when everyone is comfortable and confident with promoting, hosting, and attending events. It breaks me to be inside the emptiness that is Flask right now, but it would be devastating to reopen and risk the health of the Flask staff and community, as well as the health of our patrons.