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On Thursday night, I went to one of my favorite bars in Lubbock. It’s a large building with a good patio with a good selection of whiskey and they still allow cigar smoking. It’s a pretty rare place in Lubbock due to the fact that they allow cigar smoking in the first place. 

Only, due to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s shutdown and abandonment of bars, it’s not a bar anymore. It’s a restaurant. They still serve drinks. They still have the large TV’s showing the game. I can even still smoke a cigar. Nothing has really changed about my favorite bar, sorry, restaurant other than they ask you to order food now and there are fewer places to sit.

The building was the same. They still clean a lot, just like they did before the second time they were closed down by the Governor. The air conditioning was the same. The cleaning was the same, everything was the same but because they were able to spend the money and work with the TABC, my favorite bar was able to rebrand… or transition into being a restaurant.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them. But what was the point in them being closed by the Governor? Does coronavirus know that my favorite bar is now a restaurant in the eyes of TABC? 

Well, I guess some things about my favorite place have changed. Last night there was one bartender on duty and one waitress. They had kitchen staff of course, but just one waitress for the entire place. Before coronavirus on a Thursday night they would have 4 to 6 waitresses. That’s how much business has fallen. The service was still good, but it was sad seeing just how empty the building was. Even with the reduced seating only a few tables were taken up by customers.

I’d like to know from Governor Abbott how I was safer, in that same building, than I was before. How exactly did an emphasis on food control the virus?

As I sat down with a friend last night enjoying a whiskey and cigar I couldn’t help but think about the other bars in Lubbock and Texas that were still closed with no end in sight. Either they don’t have the money or space to serve food or get a new license. And they get no answers from the Governor. Instead their business, their livelihoods are treated as second class and expendable. 

Governor Abbott says it’s safe to go to school. Safe to attend a football game, and even safe to vote. He’s probably right. But how is it not safe to go to a wine tasting room? Or a distillery? Or even a bar at a certain percent capacity? How is it that I’m safe in a building that now identifies as a restaurant, but nothing about it has really changed from when it was a bar?

It makes no sense. Bars should be allowed to reopen in Texas and I’m fine debating whether or not there should be a capacity limit. But from what I saw last night, responsible bar owners are going to take steps to protect their business and their customers. And adults should be able to make their own decisions on whether or not they want to take the risk of going to a bar, restaurant, winery, movie theater, hair salon, etc. Let Texans decide. Let business owners make money and employ people.

Just a few things I thought about as I enjoyed my whiskey and cigar at my favorite bar.

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