AUSTIN, Texas - Several frustrated Texas bar owners showed up Friday afternoon, saying they are tired of being ignored.
“It doesn’t matter what we do, they don't care," said Gabrielle Ellison, owner of Big Daddy Zane’s in Odessa.
Ellison’s bar is currently still open.
“They've come and suspended me for 30 days, they’ve come and suspended me for 60 days, they've thrown me in jail,” she said.
The TABC has provided the option for businesses to add food and beverage licenses to bar permits to stay afloat. They’ve already gotten more than 750 applications to do so.
“That is a higher than usual number, this time last year we received approximately 200 or so,” said Chris Porter, spokesperson for the TABC.
Ellison has no intention of doing that.
“I could easily do the kitchen we have the setup, the fryers, we've got everything, I didn't open a restaurant, I opened a bar. It makes no sense to me that you can eat a potato chip and have a beer and all of a sudden you’re magically exempt, but you can’t just have a beer,” said Ellison.
Tee Allen Parker's business is also open.
“They said you have to close. I said ‘Why do I have to close?’ ‘Because you are 52 percent alcohol.’ No, I'm 73 percent food and we are not closing,’" she said.
She hopes the governor can provide some relief.
“Our goal is to have a solution our goal is to for him to offer us a relief package," said Parker.
Both she and Ellison have said their establishments are keeping tables distanced and taking proper precautions for protection against COVID-19.
“Ultimately Governor Abbott is the one who makes those decisions related to his executive orders. The TABC’'s role is to support those orders and enforce those orders and allow businesses to operate when possible while keeping the people of Texas safe,” said Porter.
Porter said they want to do everything in their power to have the dialogue with bar owners to find ways to keep businesses up and going.
“We want them to know we are listening and hoping they'll continue to engage with us and their elected leaders as we move forward,” said Porter.
The collective message at the protest Friday, was to allow the bars to reopen safely for customers and to not go bankrupt.
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