San Antonio bar owner feeling impact from downtown violent protests, COVID-19 and heavy weather

The Basement Bar & Lounge owner says his business was already out thousands of dollars before violent protests on Saturday

SAN ANTONIO – The violent protests in downtown San Antonio over the weekend were a significant setback for many local business owners.

Jonathan Villanueva is the owner of The Basement Bar and Lounge, which is located right across the street from Alamo Plaza. He said he was there the night people started destroying businesses in the area.

"It was terrifying," Villanueva said. "It was basically like a movie -- people going downtown, damaging, breaking glass, breaking into buildings. This isn't San Antonio. We are supposed to unite as a group and try to move forward."

Villanueva said Monday that he was already hurting before everything happened on Saturday, so having to board up windows and dealing with a temporary curfew was like taking another hit.

"The hours and manpower that we had to put in just to put up the boards," Villanueva said about the effort. "We're trying to survive. Please help us, and let's help small business owners. Everybody, let's all help each other."

Villanueva was able to cover up the graffiti and fix the damage from the weekend, but he said the COVID-19 pandemic had already set him back thousands of dollars.

His bar was first closed for a few months and then opened up at only 25% capacity, and the changes all had a significant impact on him, his wife, his seven children and his nine grandchildren.

"People are losing their homes," Villanueva said. "I'm about to lose my home. So don't think I'm not with you, because I'm with everybody who is struggling."

Villanueva said he also struggled because his wife is battling lupus, and the recent tornadoes hit his house.

“With COVID(-19), tornadoes at my house, and now we’re having to close again and the rioting, we need a break,” Villanueva said. “Give us a break. Everything is going to get better, just give us a break.”

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