Pizza, Burgers and to-go Booze: How Alcohol Sales Are Helping COVID-19 Hit Businesses Stay Afloat

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HARLINGEN, Texas – Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he will evaluate what is needed to reopen the economy, “This is not gonna be a rush the gates, everybody is able to suddenly reopen all-at-once” scenario he explained at a press conference at the state Capitol Monday.

Meanwhile, restaurants in Harlingen are doing their best to stay in business with major limitations amid Cameron County’s current shelter-in-place order. On April 7th, County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. extended the order for another two weeks.

“I’m ready for this to be over,” said Classic’s Bar and Grill Owner, Bryan Heiskell. The Navy Veteran is doing everything to keep the Harlingen based sports restaurant open and his staff paid.

Heiskell is the only business open at the El Mercado Plaza and has a cot with a pillow and blanket to keep the business operational, “[we’re] closing down at 10 and by the time we get everything set up and ready to go for the next morning, it’s already pushing midnight and it’s just easier to stay here.”

Classics is a bar with alcohol sales bringing the bulk of the revenue. Amid the COVID-19 disaster declaration, Governor Abbott has relaxed laws to help bars stay afloat.

On March 18th, Governor Abbott’s office announced he signed waivers, “that will allow restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with food purchases to patrons, including beer, wine, and mixed drinks.”

According to Abbott’s office, he also “directed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to waive certain provisions to allow manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of alcoholic beverages to repurchase or sell back unopened product.”

Stefano’s Brooklyn Pizza has put the waivers to good use, “When this happened, and delivery and carryout became our prime business we switched over in the mindset that they’re not going to sit in the bar and drink, so we need to send it with them,” explained Chef and General Manager Graham Smith.

The indoor-outdoor dining areas are closed and being renovated while the shelter-in-place order is in effect. “I am ready to work again,” laughed Smith with a bit of stress behind his words. “No one has been fired. As soon as they give us permission to open up the dining room, we’re opening back up and we’re bringing all those employees back,” Smith said, “the only ones that we’ve said ‘we’ll call you when it’s time’ is the wait staff, the hostesses, the busboys, and anybody that’s associated with the main dining room.”

Both establishments have seen better days but pray the hardest are in the past, “Being busy is the only way to survive,” Smith said.

For daily deals and specials visit, Classic’s Bar and Grill’s Facebook www.facebook.com/classics.bar.grill/
For delivery and curbside options visit Stefano’s Brooklyn Pizza Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StefanosBrooklynPizza/

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