‘We knew it was only a matter of time’: Bar owner worries for staff after closure

Bars and restaurant dining rooms have stayed empty following emergency declarations from city, county and state

SAN ANTONIO – Local bars have been forced to close which has left employees wondering about their financial future.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an emergency declaration Wednesday ordering bars and restaurant dining rooms to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hills & Dales Ice House in San Antonio is one of many bars that have remained closed over the last few days. Justin Viteck, owner of Hills & Dales said it was something he anticipated would happen.

“We started hearing more about the bars shutting down in Houston, Austin, Dallas. We knew it was only a matter of time before San Antonio did too,” Viteck said.

Viteck took over the long-standing business three years ago but he never imagined he would be faced with an obstacle like this.

“We had to make as much money as we could for our staff for the bar to be able to sustain,” said Vitek.

He said the weekends are usually a busy time for his three locations but after the city, county, and state ordered bars to remain closed, Viteck immediately worried for his staff. “It was a really hard conversation to have."

Gyms, theaters, bingo parlors and other non-essential businesses have also been barred from operating. Restaurants have also been ordered to close their dining areas.

Vitek said his staff looked to him for answers and hope. He said he has tried to help them out as much as he could, however, he said with the doors closed some may have to find other ways to make ends meet.

“It’s about our staff. They literally live off their tips,” he said.

Viteck said he believes business will be back stronger than ever, “hopefully we’ll get back sooner rather than later."

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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