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New bar shutdown, restaurant capacity reduction hard to swallow for owners

Braunda Smith was at a loss Friday when Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive which included shutting down bars.

SAN ANTONIO — The end for the business she opened a year and a half ago with husband Jesse seems imminent. Lucy Cooper’s Texas Ice House at 16080 San Pedro Ave feels like its about to get iced.

“We don’t survive. We shut our doors especially with the executive order from Abbott being open-ended,” Smith said.

Abbott said a concerning surge in Coronavirus cases was linked in part to people congregating in bars. At noon Friday bars are closed until further notice. The governor is allowing bars that sell food to still provide take-out, delivery and as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission alcohol too.

“But I really wish someone would address the fact of people are allowed to---and I know this is a touchy subject---people are allowed to protest,” She said. “They’re allowed to do all these things that puts them in mars way. But somehow my business is the cause of the rise of COVID-19.”

Under the new order, restaurants must reduce their capacity to 50 percent on Monday. The President and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association said the governor’s decision was difficult. Dr. Emily Williams-Knight also believes it could be the final supper for some eateries.

“And so, I’m afraid. We are projecting that 30 percent of our restaurants could close,” She said. “We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. But I think that number could accelerate.

Williams-Knight said restaurants will need to lean on a survival plan mapped out in part the businesses which includes selling bulk items, alcohol to-go and even encouraging customers to buy gift cards.

She not only sympathizes with the bar community but the two are working together in some areas.

Meantime, the Smiths are trying to figure out how they will survive after complying with a previous shut down, supporting staff and forking over $1 million in taxes last year in their chef-driven bar.

“How do I keep my people employed? How do I keep the lights on?” Smith asked. “We can’t afford to do that. But he (Abbott) didn’t shut us down completely. What a great guy?”

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