They had received notice of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that all Texas establishments that make 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol sales would indefinitely cease operations at midday to combat the uptick in coronavirus cases statewide. Food-based establishments needed to simultaneously reduce indoor seating capacity to 50%, according to the order.
All of the anxiety from March and April–in which time Hop and Sting lost between 60% and 70% of its revenue and laid off two employees—came right back to the front of their minds.
But then they connected with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and received a verbal exemption.
“We’re hearing from people in the industry that they’re expecting the TABC to revise the guidelines to specifically call out [craft brewery taprooms] to remain open or shut down,” Powell said. “At this point, we have verbal confirmation from Austin that we can stay open, so at this point we’re offering 50% capacity. Obviously, that can change at any moment, as we’ve seen already today.”
Even before Abbott’s order, public health guidelines in Tarrant County became significantly stricter earlier in the week when County Judge Glen Whitley ordered masks to be worn in all businesses and during events with more than 100 people.
Owners of restaurants, which had been allowed up to 75% of normal indoor seating capacity, and bars sensed the COVID-19 situation was getting worse. The number of daily positive coronavirus cases in Texas has been setting records in recent days and is continuing to increase, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data.
“It’s no surprise at all because, from the beginning, we’ve seen it on the news, and people are afraid,” Colleyville’s Pho Duy owner Hip Ngyuen said. “It’s understandable.”
While local bars and restaurant owners adjust to a second round of restrictions, they do have suggestions for how customers can help keep them afloat until the new COVID-19 guidelines are relaxed.
Evandro Caregnato, co-owner of Delucca Guacho Pizza & Wine in Southlake, said he has been forced to turn customers away during peak hours to comply with health guidelines, but there are ways patrons can still enjoy their favorite places.
“What people don’t realize is that everyone wants to come at the same time,” Caregnato said. “We could have 50% capacity, but the weekend for most places has one to two hours where everyone wants to be there."
He suggested people could sit out on the patio, though "it’s not that comfortable in the Texas weather," he said.
Caregnato also recommended people avoid coming around 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday when it is crowded. "If you come early, you’ll have quite a bit more space,” he said.
Alcohol-based businesses like Hop and Sting and Sloan & Williams Winery, one of many wineries with retail outlets on Grapevine’s Main Street, have other revenue streams.
Sloan & Williams will continue to sell wine for off-premises consumption. Other retail wine stores on Main Street did not respond for comment.
Powell said customers can help Hop and String by purchasing its kegs and growlers, which were intended to be distributed to bars. Customers will need a mask to enter, order from the bar and to use the restrooms, but they can enjoy their beverages at designated tables in-house without a mask.
“The biggest thing right now is to support the growler bar,” Powell said. “The biggest problem is everyone has beer in kegs because everything opened up in the last month and a half or so. We shifted our production from cans to kegs, and all those kegs are going to sit around again just like they did in March. The only [natural] outlet we have to sell those are restaurants and growler bars.”