Texas Bar Owner Refuses to Shut Down Despite TABC Suspension
An East Texas bar owner is refusing to close her doors despite a 60-day suspension served her by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in August.
Sandra Young owns Bokeeters in New Caney, just north of Houston. She tells KHOU-TV that she shut down in compliance with Governor Greg Abbott's executive order in March, but decided to reopen when her staff began experiencing financial hardships.
In June, the TABC served her a 30-day suspension on her alcohol permits. They returned in August to serve a 60-day suspension, which Young refused to sign. Now she remains open with a sign out front reading "We Refuse to Shut Down - Please Support Your Local Business".
Young is part of a lawsuit against the TABC and Gov. Abbott that claims the bar shutdown "sentenced [bar owners] to bankruptcy" in violation of the state constitution. She's not interested in the workaround that would allow bars to reopen if they meet certain requirements to be classified as a restaurant.
“I’m not understanding the switching (permits) to food, because I really don’t believe coronavirus can tell the difference whether you’ve got chips and salsa or just a pint of beer," she told KHOU.
The TABC tells KHOU that Young and other bars in violation of the current order risk losing their licenses.
The Dallas Observer reports that while many bars have applied for restaurant certification, some have found that it would either cost them more money than they believe it's worth, while others have found themselves having to close again due to an imbalanced audit of food vs alcohol sales.
I really feel for bar owners right now. As someone who cares for a disabled relative susceptible to the worst complications of COVID-19, I'm all for health and safety measures to slow the spread of the virus. However, bar owners make a point that seems valid to me: restaurants and other businesses are allowed to operate at reduced occupancy right now. Shouldn't bars have the same right?
I don't claim to have an answer, and while I want people to take this virus seriously and do everything they can to help slow the spread, I don't want to see businesses that people have poured their heart and soul into have to shut their doors for good. There must be some reasonable compromise.