SAN ANTONIO – Jonny Yumol, owner of Bar Du Mon Ami on Broadway in San Antonio, says the last few months have been a roller coaster of re-openings and closing at his establishment.
Last month, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff opted to allow bars that didn’t serve food to reopen. However, their doors must be closed by 11 p.m.
This week, the judge announced he would shut down bars again if the community’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues is equal to or above 10% for two weeks, but only for those that don’t serve food.
“We’re going to get hit first before anybody else,” Yumol said.
Yumol is anticipating his doors could be closed forever.
“If it lasts for more than two months, this place is probably going to be gone,” Yumol said.
The bar industry has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the majority of bars in Bexar County are now operating as restaurants. In August, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission adjusted its rules, which allowed for bars to qualify for a food and beverage permit.
Wolff said for those bars still struggling, converting to a restaurant is an easy fix.
“They can simply add food to their mix. Many of them use food trucks, so they have the option to do what all the other bars are doing,” he said.
Yumol disagreed with Wolff.
“It shackles us. It makes no sense,” he said.
According to the TABC, an establishment must have a kitchen, food truck or a designated area where food is prepared. They must offer at least two entrees that customers can order, and food sales must be offered the entire time alcohol is provided.
The licensing fee alone is $725. Some bar owners told KSAT they had spent thousands of dollars upgrading plumbing, kitchen equipment, adding staff and creating a menu.
Yumol said converting to a restaurant was impossible for him.
“I don’t have room to make a kitchen. I don’t to make the volume of that. I don’t have a way to market this place as a restaurant now,” he said.
He said he has already lost thousands of dollars because of the first closure of bars, and he doesn’t have the funds to add more space.
Yumol also lacks the staff, and he is frustrated the TABC loophole doesn’t help neighborhood bars like his.
“I’m going to be shut down again, and we’re going to have to work second jobs instead, and I’m still going to be angry about this,” he said.
Yumol is unsure why food became an end-all solution, but he said it doesn’t fix his problems.
“Apparently, food is more important than anything else in the bar business now,” he said.