McKinney bar owner calls governor's latest order on restrictions unfair

guy playing bagpipes outside bar
The Celt Irish Pub in McKinney had to close at noon June 26 to comply with new executive orders from the state concerning the new coronavirus. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Celt Irish Pub in McKinney had to close at noon June 26 to comply with new executive orders from the state concerning the new coronavirus. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)

The governor’s June 26 order to close all bars and limit the capacity at restaurants drew an immediate reaction from some in McKinney.

“Today, the governor shut down bars. Tomorrow, what if it's restaurants again?” McKinney Mayor George Fuller said. “Why wouldn't we all want to do everything we possibly can to preserve the health and well-being of people and the health and well-being of businesses?”

Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order requires the closure of all bars in the state by noon June 26, and restaurant capacity is once again limited to 50% beginning at 12:01 a.m. June 29. The order was made to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Abbott said.

The city of McKinney is required to follow these executive orders, Fuller said. It can also impose stricter restrictions, if it deems them necessary, he said. The city could follow in the steps of Dallas and Tarrant counties and mandate the public wear masks in businesses if coronavirus numbers do not improve, he said.

While Fuller noted that McKinney does not have a large number of bars, even having one business close is “too many.” He encouraged the public to help slow the spread of the virus and to wear their masks.


“I don’t want to have more businesses closed down,” he said.

Some establishments, such as The Celt Irish Pub in downtown McKinney, were immediately affected by Abbott’s order. Considered a bar because alcohol sales are the bulk of its revenue, among other factors, the business confirmed it was closing.

“There's an easy scapegoat to go after, and it's the bars and the restaurants,” said Stan Penn, owner of The Celt. “And it's just not fair.”

Penn compared the experience to “having the rug yanked out” from underneath them in spite of doing everything they can to limit occupancy and provide sanitation measures. While the business can still serve food in a to-go capacity, Penn said it was a “no-win situation” for him.

“We can do food, but he’s [Abbott] not letting bars like this do to-go alcohol,” Penn said. “And even if we could, it's just a big money loser to pay staff and kitchen and everything else.”

Estimates from the Texas Restaurant Association indicate about 700,000 restaurant industry jobs have been lost since mid-March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Celt closed in March during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and hosted a “Save Our Square” rally in April to show support for businesses in downtown McKinney. The business re-opened in May for dine-in service.

“We’re going to make it. It’s going to be fine,” Penn said. “It’s just disruptive, and again, it’s not fair.”

Other McKinney businesses, such as Arcade 92, are not closing, but instead are fielding phone calls and working to reassure people that the business will remain open.

“We’re a restaurant that serves alcohol, but a lot of times people will think we’re a bar,” owner Michael Lepsch said. “So I have no doubt that we're going to see a significant drop in customers, just based on assumptions.”

The business is relatively unaffected by Abbott’s executive order, as it was already operating at only 50% capacity.

"Thankfully, we kind of fit into an odd box where we as a restaurant can have 75% occupancy, but as an arcade, we can only have 50% occupancy,” Lepsch said. “So we’ve been playing it safe and only doing 50%.”

Restaurants such as Guitars and Growlers and The Yard also had not escalated their services to 75% capacity, so they will not have to make any adjustments under the new order either, officials said.

Foxii’s Restaurant and Grill and Delaney’s Irish Pub & Scratch Kitchen are both considered restaurants in McKinney and will remain open. To comply with Abbott’s orders, Foxii’s will have to space out its tables a little more, said one of the restaurant’s owners, Diego Ruiz. Delaney’s is a larger restaurant, so providing plenty of space at 50% is not an issue there either, manager Barbara Kemp said.

“We just want to make sure people still feel comfortable enough to come in,” she said. “We are making sure we have hand sanitizer out. ... We’re trying to make sure we follow proper protocol so that way we can continue to stay open.”
By Miranda Jaimes
Miranda has been in the North Texas area since she graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014. She reported and did design for a daily newspaper in Grayson County before she transitioned to a managing editor role for three weekly newspapers in Collin County. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 covering Tarrant County news, and is now back in Collin County as the editor of the Frisco and McKinney editions.


MOST RECENT

Harvest Hall officially opened Feb. 6 in Grapevine as part of the Grapevine Main development. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harvest Hall now open in Grapevine, new dining options in Fort Worth and more DFW news from February

Here are some of the top stories from the past month from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

digital rendering of virus
Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinds COVID-19 disaster declaration

Collin County’s declaration of local disaster in response to COVID-19 was rescinded Feb. 26 by Judge Chris Hill.

At its peak of power loss, the city had roughly 50,000 homes with interrupted power, many of which had prolonged outages, Plano City Manager Mark Israelson said. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano faces long-term impacts from storm; Collin County vaccine hubs resume service and more DFW-area news

Read the top business and community news from this week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Chicken and waffles are served with syrup. (Courtesy Layered)
Layered offers breakfast, brunch and family-like bonds to McKinney

The breakfast and brunch restaurant, located at 111 E. Virginia St., McKinney, sees regulars visit on any given day.

The North Texas Municipal Water District has lifted its request for its member cities to reduce water use. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Collin County water supplier lifts water conservation request

With water demands returning to normal levels, the North Texas Municipal Water District has lifted its request to reduce nonessential water use within its service area, which includes the cities of Frisco, McKinney, Plano and Richardson.

The coffee and wine bar offers signature drinks, such as the Honey Bear Latte, made with honey and cinnamon, as well as food options, such as breakfast tacos, charcuterie boards, baked goods and snack boxes. (Courtesy Golden Boy Coffee Co.)
Golden Boy Coffee Co. opens in Plano; Black Rock Coffee Bar coming to Southlake and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

The McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission supported a rezoning request that could allow cottage homes to be constructed on the Storybook Ranch property located at 3701 Custer Road, McKinney. (Rendering courtesy city of McKinney)
McKinney's Storybrook Ranch given initial green light to redevelop into cottage homes

The project includes about 240 units in one-, two- or three-bedroom options available for rent with oversized bedroom windows, privacy fences and yards.

The current McKinney Public Safety Building will become the new headquarters for the police department after the fire department headquarters are built. (Community Impact file photo)
Architect named to design new McKinney Fire Department HQ

The layout of the building will be determined by the Martinez Architects team as it moves through its process.

The Playful Studios building in downtown McKinney
Common Desk to open downtown McKinney location in Playful Studios building

The coworking space is expected to open in late May.