Imagine a bar that will open any bottle of wine for you as long as you have at least two glasses. Then, imagine that bar also serves hot dogs and tinned fish, and has a killer soundtrack. Surprise! You’re imagining haley.henry, run by Haley Fortier and Kristie Weiss. The tiny spot nestled in Downtown Crossing’s concrete jungle of offices and fast-casual lunch spots is always jam-packed, which is why it’s high time for sister bar Nathalié to open up in Fenway later this month. Here's a look at how Haley and Kristie make it through a typical(ish) workday.
Haley: Honestly, I could be up at 6:30, I could be up at 8—I’m usually up by 8 at the latest. The first two hours of my day are literally reading the terrible news in the paper about the terrible news in the world. I’ll get depressed over that, and then I’ll eat some eggs to get over my depression.
Then, I’ll be mapping out the day. Especially with the addition of a new wine bar, every day for us is really different. We basically sit down on Saturday afternoon and go through what the next week is looking like, if we have a wine tasting on Tuesday at 2 PM, if we have a meeting with my new current landlord over in Fenway, or if we’re planning for design meetings. It’s really hectic.
Kristie: I’m up by 9 or 10. Usually, Haley and I are already texting; either she’s sending me one of those awful news stories, or it’s something funny. We definitely have a lot of humor, and we talk about food pictures a lot.
Haley: Yeah, we try to find the worst food pictures online. Like on Instagram or blogs. We’ll be like, “Please, do not ever let our food look like this. Please, do not let anyone take a picture like this. No, no, no.”
Kristie: I always have my phone on in the mornings because I’m the second person they call if the alarm goes off at the restaurant. My husband usually hears the texts––Haley has a special text sound––and he’ll just go, “Haley.” He sleeps way later than me, so he’ll just be like, “Leave! Go to another room!”
I also shower in the morning which takes a while if it’s hair-washing day. My hair-washing is quite the process.
Haley: My Christmas gift to her was some sessions at Drybar.
Kristie: Okay, that said, we’re usually meeting up by 11.
Haley: We’ll do lunch meetings! We’ll meet all over the city. Once we get to haley.henry at 1 or 1:30, there’s just so many people and things to do that we won’t get uninterrupted time to talk like that again.
Kristie: Also, we’re not a normal full-house restaurant. Like, there’s no host to handle seating or the phone, so that’s us. People walk in and ask us questions, so once we’re in the building, we don’t get a ton done.
Haley: When people think of a restaurant, they think “Oh, you have everything you need there.” But the thing is, we’re so small, so we don’t really have the ability to buy and store things in bulk. So like, I’ll head to restaurant depot to load up my car with whatever we need for that month.
Driving to restaurant depot is like driving to hell. It’s this big warehouse with shit everywhere. I know where everything is at this point, but it’s never a place you want to go.
Kristie: Costco looks like the Ritz next to Restaurant Depot.
Haley: I’m the only one who has a car, so I have to do the Restaurant Depot run.
Kristie: You know, that’s probably a main reason I don’t have a car.
Haley: We’re a small nine-person staff, which makes it really tough when someone gets sick or someone goes away. We were both in the kitchen for three months when we were looking for a new cook. It’s such a team effort.
Kristie: It just means we always need to be looking at the calendar far in advance and staying ahead of the 8-ball.
Haley: We really trust our staff. They see that, too, we hope. We want them to feel empowered to make good decisions.
Kristie: Okay, back on track. By 1, we’re talking to chef about specials, things we may be low on, and things we’re featuring. We’re talking about possible reservations coming in. We’re talking about who’s closing, who’s there throughout the evening.
If there’s any new wines, we’re going through notes with the staff to taste them on it.
Haley: By 3, we’re open. Door unlocked, music playing, lights on.
Kristie: At 3, people are escaping from work early because they need a glass of wine.
Haley: Or, they’ll steal a glass of wine and actually go back to work.
Also around this time, we’re thinking about our social media post for the day. It’s a group effort and I think it’s really important. We have a lot of fun on social media because it’s entertaining for me to get these guys to do things.
Kristie: She’ll come in after Sunday and be like “I have this great idea for social media.”
Haley: Social media should be fun and engaging. I feel like people really have fun even if they’ve never been to the bar, if they follow us on social media. That’s what you want as a business owner.
We recently did a video where we switched the words to ‘Jolene.’ We did 15 takes completely sober, and then we went out for drinks. I made us do it one more time when we got back, and that’s the one we used. The drunkest one.
Kristie: Everyone is wearing sunglasses.
Haley: That’s life. Life happens that way.
Haley: In the afternoon, we’re running the restaurant. Our first kitchen person leaves at around 9 PM, and after that, if Haley needs to jump on and make tins, that happens. The kitchen guys leave usually by 10 and 11. Our menu after that is cheese boards and all of our tinned fish. We love tinned fish. It’s really that until we close.
Kristie: We’ll also sit down and do emails again in the evening because things come in the late afternoon while we’re working.
Haley: When people get home from their 9 to 5, they do emails. That’s right in the middle of my time at the bar, so I see it at 10, and that’s when I’m responding to things for the next morning.
Kristie: We always end the night with a glass of wine. So does our staff.
Recently, Haley found these new games on her phone. She likes to play online pool with the staff, her girlfriend’s kids, and my husband. So she’s usually on her phone talking about her “shots” at the end of the night.
Haley: Everyone has a way to settle down, and that for me is just the mindless way. It’s so sacred just to completely shut off sometimes. Everyone should have that thing to switch the “off” switch on their day.
Kristie: My husband and I play a lot of gin rummy, so if I come home and I need to wind down, we’re playing a lot of gin rummy. If I’m hungry at home and I don’t have a tin, I’m doing an antipasto plate with marinated olives, marinated mushrooms.
Haley: But really tins are so, so good. Add some parsley, some lemon, and some pickled olives, and you are good.
—As told to and written by Oset Babur for The Thirty-One Percent