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Local bar frustrated with Gov. Abbott's decision to keep bars closed

Posted at 7:47 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 20:47:39-04

KILLEEN, TX — Bar owners were left with bad news Thursday afternoon. Governor Greg Abbott has announced all bars in the state of Texas will remained closed but restaurants, gyms, and retail stores will be able to increase their capacity to 75% starting on September 21.

Tanks Pub and Grill is one of many smaller local bars in Killeen. The owners say they are at a loss for words with Gov. Abbott's announcement. They have no clue how they will remain open.

"What are we supposed to do as far as staying in business? I just don’t think it’s fair," said Deborah Munoz, one of the bar's employees.

"We are a small 51 bar and we’re not the type that can hold concerts and stuff like that. We’re here for the people that enjoy this bar," said owner Cruz Ochoa.

Though some bars in the area are still closed, Tanks Pub and Grill has been able to stay afloat thanks to take out orders, but Ochoa says he doesn't know how long he will last

"I feel like they want us to take loans and loans out when the bar can survive on its own but now we’re forced to do those things," he said.

Though he’s in a financial bind, he has still made it a priority to keep all of his employees on payroll, including his daughter Deborah Munoz, who is also part owner.

”We’re definitely paying, and we’re definitely paying employees more than we’re making in sales, and that’s definitely hurting us,” said Munoz.

"My boss is one of the best you could ever find," said Randy Coon, another employee.

Coon says he is beyond grateful he has been able to keep his job but doesn't understand why small community bars are suffering for the large nightclubs.

”He [Ochoa] takes people's safety into consideration. He has done everything that the governor has asked of him,” Coon explained.

Gov. Abbott said now is simply not the time for bars to reopen because the risks are too high.

"It’s important for them to know that we are focused on finding ways to get them open. We need to work with the bars on effective strategies that will assure that when they do open, the possibility of spread of COVID is contained," the governor explained.

Ochoa says he hasn’t gotten any answers from local leaders or the governor's office about when he could possibly reopen. He fears if he ever gets an answer, it will be too late.

"I’m in the last of my savings right now, the very last. I don’t know. I don’t know," said Ochoa.

The owner says he think there should be a distinction between the large night clubs and bars. For now Ochoa and Munoz are just grateful for their loyal customers who are keeping their doors open, for now.