San Antonio bar owners vent about Conservation Society's NIOSA-style Fall Festival on social media

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Tickets went on sale Friday morning for a pricey, NIOSA-reminiscent Fall Heritage Festival produced by and benefiting the Conservation Society of San Antonio.

Since many Alamo City bars sit idle because they don’t qualify to relicense as restaurants — or are still waiting for approval — some owners took to social media to express frustration that the event received approval to move forward.



In a Facebook post, Lucy Cooper’s Icehouse owner Braunda Smith called the festival, which could draw as many as 1,000 people, "tone-deaf."

“This news of a very expensive fundraiser comes just four days after our mayor went on TV pleading for restaurant, bar owners, event venues and PATRONS to ‘carefully consider the risk among the pandemic’ in regards to reopening any further.”



The announcement of the festival also comes as some business owners plead with the city for financial and regulatory support to survive the prolonged downturn.

“We have been forced to shut down, some of us for months, with no city aid and CONSTANT blame and criticism,” Tim McDiarmid, owner of The Good Kind, Ivy Hall and Tim the Girl catering in Southtown said on Facebook. “Please help us, Ron Nirenberg. The restaurant and bar industry needs dedicated help! In the form of money and public support please!”

Some bar professionals considered the approval of the Fall Heritage Festival a blatant knock to an already suffering community.

“Day in and day out, our industry has watched you all force blame on us as your scapegoat for increasing case numbers,” Aaron Peña, the owner of Squeezebox and partner in upcoming Southtown spot Amor Eterno, said in a Facebook post. “This is politics, this is killing small businesses, and this is bullshit.”

While Smith, McDiarmid and Peña have all gained necessary approval to operate as restaurants, that process came at a significant price. Any bar that's been approved to operate as a restaurant has spent around $800 for the licensing in addition to added expenses for new equipment, inspections, food costs and more.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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