LAKE TRAVIS, Texas - The work on assembling the stage at Emerald Point Bar and Grill came to a quick stop shortly before noon Thursday morning. That’s when owner William Brannam got a call that his featured performer for Friday, Vanilla Ice, was pulling out because of negative reaction to the show.
“Oh it’s disappointing we were doing everything we can the problem is with bad information is circulated by media and you’re combating bad information and everyone comes out after you,” said Brannam.
Earlier in the morning Vanilla Ice, his real name is Robert Van Winkle, posted a tweet saying he took the virus seriously. In the post he also pointed out the safety precautions at the venue and that there was plenty of room for social distancing. After the cancellation, he posted a video statement.
“Basically I’m not going, I listen to my fans, I hear all you people out out there, I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy in Austin,” said Van Winkle.
The concern for Van Winkle, he said, was that the focus had turned on him.
“And it’s not about that,” said the performer.
The performance of Vanilla Ice was becoming a popular Independence Day holiday tradition at Emerald Point. More than 1,800 tickets were sold last year.
Tickets to the event this year were limited to around 500 because of COVID-19 restrictions. It was believed the amount kept the site in compliance with the governor's recent order. As a restaurant, they can stay open at 50% capacity according to J. Fowlkes who manages food services.
“We do everything that we possibly can, there’s sanitizer. We’re meeting all the requirements. There’s sanitizer for every every guest .... we take the temperature of the people coming through the door and we make sure we provide a safe environment,” said Fowlkes.
The Friday show and another act on Saturday were already in jeopardy of having the plug pulled. The problem had to do with plans for the converted beach volleyball area. The idea was to have up to 200 people in front of the stage. That was in dispute with the county fire Marshall over how many people would be allowed to gather on the sand.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
“The biggest problem is they don’t consider the beach area part of the restaurant, I do,” said Brannam.
Capacity outside was capped at 100 and that was the other deal breaker.
“We base the show, our breakeven at 450 tickets, that’s what it would’ve cost from keep us from losing money, if we go down to 100, we lose money, we’re losing money anyway,” said Brannam.
The cancellations, according to Brannam, will cost him about $50,000. His employees will be hit the hardest, losing a weekend paycheck some estimated would be as much as $1,500.
Vanilla Ice joined the hope that eventually the situation will improve and shows like his will eventually go on.
“Anyway happy Fourth of July and hopefully by New Year’s this corona crap will have a cure come on,” said Van Winkle.
The restaurant will stay open at 50% capacity despite the cancellation. Two other performers have been booked to play inside on Friday and Saturday.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.