Bars struggle with strict reopening regulations

Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 7:53 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - It’s been over two weeks since Gov. Greg Abbott gave the green light to reopen bars in Texas. But it’s difficult for bars to make green with pages and pages of restrictions.

Barbwire N Lace has been in business since 2009 when Jami Burleson founded the neighborhood bar.

“I was a single mother when I did this,” Burleson said. “I was only 30 years old.”

She poured her heart into Barbwire N Lace, turning it into a successful neighborhood spot to have a drink and watch a game.

All that has come crashing down during the pandemic.

“On the second closure, there was no projected date,” Burleson said.

After several months, she was hesitant to believe rumors that Gov. Abbott was going to reopen bars in mid-October. When he did, Burleson was stunned at the restrictions that came along with it.

“When you read through them, it’s almost designed to make it next to impossible for a business of any kind to do business.”

Foremost among those restrictions are a 50% occupancy limit and being unable to serve alcohol after 11 p.m.; rules restaurants don’t have to abide by. It’s putting bars that don’t have a food-and-beverage license at a severe disadvantage.

In a normal year, Barbwire N Lace gets half their sales between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Now, that option is out the window, putting Burleson in a financial bind.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face for the lack of a better way to put it.”

To try and make up the lost business, she opens the bar at noon instead of the normal 2 p.m., but little business gets done during this time. Mostly, the bartenders just clean.

Burleson isn’t sure how much longer she can stay in business.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” she said. “I don’t know how much longer. Just in the months we’ve already been closed, I’ve watched over a decade of my business almost be flushed down the drain.”

She says she hopes Gov. Abbott changes the restrictions and changes them soon. Her message to him is simple.

“Let us continue doing what we know how to do.”

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