Texas Bar Owner Talks Trough His Decision To Reopen His Businesses
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Tonight you can grab a beer inside a bar in Texas, but there is a catch, says the governor.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
GREG ABBOTT: Bars, wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and similar businesses can open at a 25% capacity.
CHANG: Now, some bar owners welcome Governor Greg Abbott's announcement, but for others, opening up to the 25% capacity restriction just isn't worth the expense. Bob Woody operates a dozen bars and nightclubs on 6th Street in Austin, and he's opening the doors to eight of them today. Welcome.
BOB WOODY: Hey. How are you doing, Ailsa?
CHANG: Pretty good. Thanks for joining us. So why does it feel like this is the right time for you to be reopening at all? Because some bars and dance clubs, I understand, where you are are hesitating right now.
ABBOTT: Yeah. Some of them are. Hey, no tears and fears here. Come on now. This is Texas. We're on 6th Street.
WOODY: We've burned our way through this as best we can tell. And Texas is so different from some of the other places that might have people, you know, being on top of each other, so to speak. We don't suffer that here. Our density's much less. And, you know, our rate of problem with the whole virus is - we've seen it drop. And we've seen it decrease in Austin and Travis County.
CHANG: Well, that said, you will only get to fill 25% of your bars at a time. So do you think you'll even be able to cover all the costs of reopening if you only can get to about a quarter capacity?
WOODY: Well, it is a great question. And it's 25% inside of - the inside bar. So we operate a number of bars that have large outside patios.
WOODY: And, you know, Friday began at midnight last night. So we opened then. We have - last night, we did 12 midnight to 2 a.m. And...
CHANG: And what were the crowds like?
WOODY: Yeah, we were crazy busy. Yeah. It was great. And people came in. They were really acting good. They had their mask on. They had their gloves - I'm just kidding. Some of them had that stuff on. And we invite everybody. We strongly recommend you wear a mask, but you're welcome without it. That's what the governor said.
CHANG: Well, I'm curious. Are you trying to enforce any kind of social distancing? Even if you aren't requiring masks, are you kind of telling people to not clump together?
WOODY: We absolutely are. Yes, ma'am.
CHANG: OK. Like...
WOODY: We absolutely are.
CHANG: Are you, like, enforcing it? Or you're just sort of issuing guidelines?
WOODY: You know, I get between them and hold them apart. You get over there. You get over there. I don't want you talking. No, I'm kidding. I sound like I'm from New York when I say that. Anyhow, what we do is we let folks come in. And they do what they're going to. They might talk to each other a little bit. But we provided additional staff just to run through there and say, folks, we got to keep separated. And we offered that last night. We're finding our way on this. You know, there's no playbook. But we are finding our way. And it's going well. People have - they're so hungry to get out and do this. It's a big culture here in Austin, Texas. And it's a great thing on 6th Street. You know, this is our entertainment district. And it's...
WOODY: South by Southwest is home for it. You've ever been down here to Austin?
CHANG: I have never, but I am dying to go. But I am curious about one thing. The governor - he said - Governor Abbott said that dancing is discouraged. So are you guys going to enforce a no-dancing rule at all your bars and clubs?
WOODY: What we've done - because we have dance floors - what we've done is we have put tables and chairs on our dance floor. So we've crowded it up with that. As these folks come in and as they pile up and want to do that, you know, if a couple of them get off on the side and they're doing that and they act like they know each other I think we'll let them do it. But for the most part, no, ma'am. We're not an encouraging dancing.
CHANG: OK. Got it.
WOODY: But, you know, (unintelligible) just pulls it out of you, doesn't it?
CHANG: Bob Woody is the board chair of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance. Thank you very much for joining us today. And good luck to you.
WOODY: I'm so thankful. You guys have a great day. Good luck there, OK?
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.