Waco: Bar owners upset over governor’s decision to keep bars closed

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 7:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Local bar owners aren’t happy with Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to keep bars closed while allowing restaurants and other businesses to operate at 75% capacity.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Brian Brown, the owner of three bar establishments in Waco.

“Everything else is open but us,” he said.

Abbott announced on May 18 that restaurants could expand to 50% of capacity and bars could reopen at 25% capacity on May 22 under the second phase of the plan and on June 3 announced restaurants could expand to 75% capacity effective June 12 under the plan’s third phase.

But two weeks later, on June 26, after a spike in new cases and one of the highest positivity rates in the country, he issued an order shutting down bars, scaling back restaurants to 50%.

The state has given bars the option of reopening as restaurants, which requires that 50% of sales must come from things other than alcohol.

Brown owns The Backyard Bar and Grill on South 8th Street in Waco, which has reopened wioth a new license.

He also owns the Backyard Saloon on Austin Avenue and Brew and Chew off of La Salle Avenue and South 11th Street.

Both of those bars remain closed.

“A lot of people say just serve food (at those locations),” Brown said.

“Well it’s not that simple,” he said.

“It’s like telling a mechanic shop that all you have to do is just start selling clothing,” he says.

“It’s not that easy to switch over.”

This week Brown and other bar owners were hopeful Abbott might allow bars to reopen, but that announcement never came.

“We are not even being given the chance to show we can follow the rules,” Brown said.

“That’s all we want is a chance.”

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