BROWNSVILLE – Bars across the state are closed. Owners argue that Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order is a shot in the dark at stopping COVID-19 from spreading because other businesses are open.
On Friday, the Governor ordered the closure of businesses with 51% of revenue from alcohol to close. Abbott said millennials looking for a drink increased COVID-19 cases. He also ended river-rafting trips, prohibited outdoor mass gatherings and limited restaurant capacity to 50%, “hopefully the announcements just made will be sufficient to begin to bend the curve of COVID-19.”
It is too soon to see if the measures will bend of the curve. Meanwhile some owners are challenging the order by appealing to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission why they should remain open.
According to TABC, “All alcoholic beverages retailers must post one of two firearms signs” a red or blue sign. The signs are designated by how much money an establishment generates from alcohol sales. TABC’s sign requirement states, “As a general rule, a true restaurant will have alcohol sales that are less than 50% of gross receipts and would be expected to post the first sign. However, if its alcohol sales are greater than 50% of gross receipts, then it would have to post the second.
“Nobody has really started to pay attention to food truck parks,” said Chrisitan Zanca, new co-owner of Brownsville’s first food truck park, The Broken Sprocket. Their business model puts them in a peculiar position because the park and the bar are two different businesses on the same property. Food trucks pay rent and give a percentage of sales to Broken Sprocket LLC, the money collected is not declared to TABC putting the bar’s revenue 100% of alcohol sales. “I’m not really that frustrated but I would like to see something done for those of us that are in that gray area. I’d like to see some more specified wording come out on outdoor venues such as a food truck park where we have food served on the premises, but we also serve alcohol obviously,” Zanca said.
Zanca adds, the Governor’s executive order will hurt food truck owners at Broken Sprocket, “so, it’s a little delicate situation because of the 51% rule and the way that bars are being shut down here in Texas because of that. There is a real fine line that separates a grill and a bar and a food truck park kind of falls in line with that. We’re trying to figure out where we fall in these guidelines.”
Zanca and his business partners are in contact with TABC and hopes to speak with Brownsville Commissioners and Mayor Trey Mendez.
The food trucks on the property remain open.