Most Austin brewpubs will not open May 1 despite green light from governor

Vista Brewing initially said it would open the weekend of May 1, but has since decided not to open. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Vista Brewing initially said it would open the weekend of May 1, but has since decided not to open. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Vista Brewing initially said it would open the weekend of May 1, but has since decided not to open. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Note from the editor: This article has been updated to include information about Treaty Oak Distilling in Southwest Austin and new information about Pinthouse Pizza. Vista Brewing initially said it would open the weekend of May 1, but has since decided not to open. This article has been updated to reflect that new information.

Many brewpubs across the Austin area are uniquely positioned among craft beer producers to open their taprooms early because of their ability to serve food, seeing as Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order to reopen the Texas economy May 1 included restaurants but not bars.

In spite of this, only a few brewpubs in and around Austin have announced plans to reopen their doors to customers May 1, even as revenue continues to dwindle statewide. Several establishments have cited safety concerns for both employees and customers.

“With the number of confirmed [coronavirus] cases continuing to climb in Travis County, we don’t think it’s responsible for us to open our doors yet and [create] risk [for] guests and staff,” said Whitney Roberts, cofounder and CEO of The Brewtorium in North Austin, in an email to Community Impact Newspaper.

More than a dozen brewpubs operate in and around Austin, and only one—Treaty Oak Distilling in Southwest Austin—plan to partially open May 1.

Vista Brewing cofounder Karen Killough initially said the brewery would only open its beer garden to members of its Vista Barrel Club, but the brewery reversed course May 1. Vista Brewing will continue selling product to go, but will not open any of its business to the public at this time.

"We have actually decided not to open for onsite service after all, and will maintain our current to go policies until further notice. We received further guidance from authorities and made the change, Killough said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper.

A handful of other brewpubs across the city have announced plans to reopen by mid-May.

Christian Cryder, CEO and founder of Lazarus Brewing Co. on East Sixth Street in Austin, said his brewery is looking to open its patio with limited capacity beginning May 8. The taproom at Lazarus Brewing Co., Cyrder said, will remain closed because of its limited space.

“Right now, we'd love to open tomorrow if we could. But we really value the safety of our staff and patrons, and after going this long without anyone getting sick or needing leave, we don't want to rush things,” Cryder said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper.

Oasis Texas Brewing Company, which sits on the shores of Lake Travis in far west Austin, announced on its social media pages that it is exploring reopening its facilities beginning May 18.

“We will be taking the next few weeks to implement policies and procedures that will provide you and our employees with a safe environment to continue social distancing,” the business wrote on its Facebook page.

Pinthouse Pizza, which has three locations in Austin and Round Rock, announced on its social media pages that its staff has resumed brewing operations at all three locations. On April 30, the local brewpub chain shared on its social media pages that it is partially reopening with curbside pickup and delivery services for food and beer, though Pinthouse Pizza's dining rooms will remain closed to the public.

Some other brewpubs have not disclosed when they plan to reopen their dining rooms to customers but have announced they will continue to sell beer and food to go.

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. stated on its Instagram page that it will not open May 1 but will continue to sell its beer, pizza and select groceries to go.

“We’re going to continue to do business as we do currently. We’re going to go only and wait and see how this all shakes out," brewer Amos Lowe said in the April 30 Instagram post. "We feel like right now, for us, this is the best thing to do and we’re going to keep doing it until we can properly and safely open our restaurant and have some success."

Abbot’s order only allows restaurants to open dining rooms with 25% capacity May 1, though the governor said bars may be allowed to open May 18.

Under current orders, breweries that operate with manufacturer’s licenses—breweries with traditional taprooms that do not have food kitchens on-site—are considered bars. The earliest those breweries could open their taprooms to the public is May 18.

In Texas, establishments that make more than 51% of their gross receipts on alcohol sales are considered bars and are therefore barred from opening May 1.

Jester King Brewery in Southwest Austin and Oddwood Ales off Manor Road in Central Austin are 51% establishments, according to the social media pages of both breweries. Neither brewery will open May 1.

“In reality, even if we were allowed to reopen on May 1, there’s virtually no way we could," Jester King wrote on its Instagram page. "Restarting our business so as to provide a high level of safety as well as great food, drink, service and hospitality will take time."
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


The RealReal in Domain Northside
Luxury resale shop The RealReal opens first Texas store in North Austin

The RealReal offers high-end brands at a discounted price through consignment and resale.

The Pushing for Justice Caravan for Javier Ambler was held in San Gabriel Park on Aug. 15. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Javier Ambler’s Law awaits Texas Senate approval

The bill passed the House on April 15.

Austin transportation officials said April 15 the range of corridor construction program projects initiated through the city's 2016 Mobility Bond remain on track for completion by late 2024. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Several Austin corridor mobility projects moving forward in 2021, program on track for 2024 completion

Transportation officials said some corridor program improvements previously planned along Guadalupe Street and East Riverside Drive are being reduced ahead of Project Connect expansions.

Round Rock ISD trustees voted to maintain the district's mask policy that requires masks on school property. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mask policy remains in place for Round Rock ISD

A motion that would have lifted part of the district's policy failed.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Teachers in Round Rock will receive a 1% pay increase for the 2021-22 school year. (Photo courtesy Round Rock ISD)
Teachers in Round Rock ISD to see 1% salary increase for 2021-22

The increase will cost the district roughly $4.6 million and is included in the proposed budget.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Williamson County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
New coronavirus cases continue to be reported even as vaccinations ramp up in Williamson County

Here are the most recent coronavirus updates from Williamson County.

Austin FC supporters celebrate the official announcement of the team in January 2019. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
How, where to watch historic first Austin FC match April 17

Check out this list of breweries, pubs and restaurants around Central Texas that are hosting watch parties for April 17's inaugural Austin FC game.

Z'Tejas' chorizo dumplings are served on the Arboretum location's porch. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Z'Tejas to open in Avery Ranch; butcher, deli to open in Dripping Springs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell predicted the end of mass vaccination sites by Memorial Day. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County judge predicts end of most mass vaccination sites by Memorial Day

As of April 14, its waitlist had dwindled to fewer than 50 for those in phases 1A, 1B and 1C and teachers, officials said.

Maj. Vito Errico, left, and Maj. Jason Zuniga are co-directors of Army Futures Command's Software Factory, for which the first cohort of soldiers started in January. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
From a rifle to a keyboard: Army Futures Command opens Software Factory at downtown ACC campus

Twenty-five soldiers started in January as part of the Software Factory's first cohort. Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be at the Rio Grande campus for a ribbon-cutting April 15.

The Bowen in The Domain
Local business leaders say The Domain continues to drive growth in North Austin market

The Domain continues to attract high-skill labor talent to the area through an employment market rife with tech opportunities and a real estate market close to nightlife and entertainment amenities.