Alamo Heights-area drinkery Bar Du Mon Ami is one of many local bars that's tried to follow state and local mandates to operate safely during the pandemic. Despite those efforts, owner Jonny Yumol says he still may be forced to shut his business permanently.
When the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission shifted its regulations in August to allow bars to operate as restaurants, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said, “[bars] 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.”
“I don’t have room to make a kitchen … I don’t have a way to market this place as a restaurant now,” he said in an interview with TV station KSAT
TABC regulations require bars with new restaurant licenses to have an onsite kitchen, food truck or designated area where food is prepared. They also must offer at least two entrees for customers, and food sales must be offered the entire time the establishment serves alcohol.
In a Friday conversation with the Current
, Yumol went further into the barriers faced by bars.
“The easy scapegoat is those who didn't pay to play,” Yumol said. “It's easy to blame them because of some puritanical belief that a bar is some place people go to dance and have orgies or something. But if they're a restaurant, they're a decent and responsible place.”
Yumol's “pay to play” references businesses that could afford to pony up the $725 fee required to relicense as a restaurant. Bars also can rack up thousands in expenses to make the plumbing and electrical adjustments needed to accommodate commercial kitchen equipment, he added.
“Closing these establishments won't stop the spike,” Yumol told the Current
. “If food really did help cure the virus, then gyms, salons and libraries would turn into restaurants too.”
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