Some San Antonio bar owners decide to shut down amid second wave of COVID-19 infections

Bar owners want to protect employees, customers

SAN ANTONIO – About two weeks after bars were allowed to reopen under Gov. Greg Abbott's guidelines, some owners in San Antonio are making the difficult decision to shut down again following a surge of new COVID-19 cases.

Zoe Stanley, manager at The Well, said it was a difficult decision to make, as it likely has been for many of the other family-owned bars.

TABC to bar, restaurant operators: Follow governor’s order or face suspension

“We thought that it was best to shut down, to give our staff a chance to get tested, make sure they are all healthy, and that we can resume business with the highest standards of cleanliness possible,” she said.

The decision followed concerns about the increase in numbers and reports that some workers tested positive for the virus at other bars.

The Well employs about 40 staff members, and the decision on how and when to reopen will be made with their help, Stanley said.

“They're scared for their safety. They're scared to come to work to get anyone else sick,” she said.

Brooks Pub manager Cindy Bonds said she was eager to reopen and get back to work, but things moved from zero to 60 once they did.

Hills & Dales Ice House to close amid COVID-19 concerns

“We started seeing things happening at other clubs, and they started testing positive. And it was moving so fast that you had to make a choice,” Bonds said.

Her staff of five will get tested, and once they know their status, they’ll determine when to reopen, but they will have a more strict protocol for customers. Bond said many of them are older, and she wants to protect them.

Aaron Pena, the owner of The Squeezebox, said he is watching the number of infections daily to determine if he will shut down his bar.

“At this rate, if these case numbers keep going up like this, I'm not hopeful that we're going to stay open for another week or two. I mean, we might have to put a pause on things once again,” he said.

Those in the bar industry say it’s just as difficult to have the governor shut them down as is it to have to decide on their own.

“You can't fault anybody for whatever decision they make because people have to eat. People need jobs. And, you know, this is the time we’re in right now,” Pena said.

The following bars announced on social media that they would be closed for some time:

  • Hills & Dale Icehouse
  • Babcock Social Pub
  • On the Rocks Pub
  • Pecan Grove Drive Inn
  • The Grasshopper Club
  • Cooter Browns Saloon
  • Box 903
  • Chicken N Pickle
  • R & J Saloon
  • The Well
  • Thirsty’s SA
  • Sugartime Texas
  • Brooks Pub
  • Coco Loco Sports Bar

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.