San Antonio bar owner in financial bind amid COVID-19 pandemic

'It’ll take a while to get back on our feet,' owner says

Five months into the pandemic, local business owners are questioning their financial future everyday.

SAN ANTONIO – In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that bans bars and tap rooms from serving customers in their establishments that pretty much forced them to shut down.

The executive order has local business owners questioning their financial future everyday.

“Everything about our business is the people. That’s why I’m in it, the people,” said Rob Martindale, owner and operator of Big Hops.

Rob Martindale started Big Hops eight years ago with a small budget and a big passion: beer.

“We are the little guys. When we started, we decided we were going to help the little guys,” Martindale said.

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Martindale uses his spots to help local breweries — or at least he did when he was open.

“Since March 18, the revenue has been zero. We had to shut down, so literally everything stopped,” Martindale said.

Then came a glimmer of hope. Revenue was back on tap.

“We were open for about three weeks, so we ramp back up, got all of our inventory, tried to put the business back together and then we’re shut down again with about a three-hour notice,” Martindale said.

Martindale understands the dangers of COVID-19 and he wants to be as safe as possible, but he also has to pay his bills and take care of his loved ones.

“I have a family to support, so it’s been tough. We don’t have unemployment. As a business owner, that’s probably been the hardest thing is that everything is coming from savings, and as soon as the savings runs out, that’s pretty much it,” Martindale said.

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Rob even tried to pivot, but that hurt more than it helped.

“We were doing curbside two days a week. Tried it for the last few weeks. Unfortunately, it’s actually costing us more money to do that than to just not do it at all,” Martindale said.

The kegs are empty, the taps are blocked off and the doors are closed.

But the biggest questions aren’t about now, it’s about what happens next.

“It is gonna hurt for quite a while. It’s going to make a change, so it’ll take a while to get back on our feet,” Martindale said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.