Bars That Have Made Less Than 51% Of Their Sales From On-Premise Alcohol Consumption Since April 1 Are Now Applying For (And Earning) Restaurant Status.

Driving around North Texas’ entertainment districts — or, hell, even just scrolling through your Instagram Stories feeds — is an oftentimes frustrating exercise these days.

The packed patios. The friend groups posing for photos together. The busy-as-seemingly-ever sidewalks.

It’s like people keep forgetting that we’re very much still in the middle of a pandemic.

Tough a pill as that may be to swallow, though, that disconnect doesn’t look like it’s going to be solving itself any time soon. Actually, if anything, it looks as if those hellbent on still heading out on the town are only going to have more and more destination options at their disposal in the coming days and weeks. And with the full backing of state officials at that!

On Friday, August 7, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issued new guidance that opens the path for bars that serve food to open their doors back up. Places that historically derive 51 percent or more of their revenue from alcohol sales, which had previously been confined to to-go offerings only under Gov. Greg Abbott’s June 26 mandate, are now able to apply for updates to their operation classification in the eyes of the TABC — presuming they can show that the majority of their business since April 1 has come from food sales.

If the TABC signs off on their applications and receipts, these spots will then be allowed to open back up, albeit at the same limited capacity of the other restaurants currently operating dining rooms across the state. They’ll be allowed to continue operating too, so long as their books continue to reflect less than 51 percent of their sales as coming from booze.

Already, North Texas spots including the East Dallas dive bar The Peak Inn, the Uptown Dallas patio destination Katy Trail Ice House and the iconic Fort Worth honky tonk Billy Bob’s have reopened their operations, or at least publicly expressed an intention to do so, under the new guidelines. In order to maintain compliance, some of these spots (such as Katy Trail) are jacking up their food menu costs and driving down their booze prices.

There’s no question as to why these spots are applying for these new classifications. Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants in Dallas have plummeted ever since coronavirus-related procedures started getting put into place by government officials, and these owners would obviously prefer their businesses not become the latest to join the list of permanent area closures due to COVID-19.

Their argument — backed up by lawsuits filed that say the statewide shutdown orders unlawfully single bars out as virus-spreading offenders — is that, so long as they’re operating safely, the potentially irresponsible actions of the public should not fall onto their establishment’s shoulders.

Which, sure, is a fair point — presuming, y’know, that we can trust our neighbors to do all that.

Can we?

Therein lies the question, no?

As for us, our stance remains unchanged: Support small businesses wherever and whenever you can, but also be sure to wash your damn hands, wear your fucking masks and, if possible, just stay the hell home.

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