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Another Shutdown Leaves North Texas Bars And Wineries Struggling To Stay Afloat

the_nines_deep_ellum.jpg
Photographer Steven Briggs
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Courtesy of The Nines
The Nines in Deep Ellum is one of many Texas bars that were told to close at noon on Friday, June 26 by Governor Greg Abbott.

The windows of the bar The Nines in Deep Ellum remain boarded up. They’ve been like this since the start of the pandemic. 

Even when bars across the state of Texas reopened five weeks ago, The Nines’ owner Allen Falkner said he left them up because he expected another shutdown. 

“I knew this was going to happen and I’m glad I did,” he said.

On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars that receive 50% of their income from alcohol sales to close. This move comes after Abbott stopped the state’s reopening amid surging cases of COVID-19. 

Falkner said even though he expected another shutdown, he didn’t think it would happen so soon. 

“As a business owner, it’s frustrating. Especially since we had zero warning,” he said. “We got a big liquor order this week. A week's notice, a couple weeks' notice sure would have been nice.”

The governor’s order is also affecting local wineries. Sloan & Williams Winery in Grapevine is shutting down. 

“I did not expect a full closure order to come down this morning. That was a full surprise,” said Alan Kunst, owner and winemaker at Sloan & Williams Winery.

Kunst was looking forward to the two big weekends coming up: Pride and Fourth of July. 

“It's a great revenue stream for us, and we are just not going to have the opportunity to be able to do it, Kunst said. “For me, I can figure it out but I got 16 awesome employees.” 

I've already decided that 2020 is going to be a wash. I don't expect to make money this year at all. - Allen Falkner, owner of The Nines

Kunst’s worries about employees he will be forced to furlough. Today is pay day for his employees, and he said he's using the last of his Paycheck Protection Program funds. Kunst's winery is trying to-go order for the first time, and he said he's a little nervous. 

Bar owners across North Dallas want to stay open.  Jordan Lowery, a bartender at Lakewood Landing, says at his bar they were following mask and social distancing orders. 

He’s trying to stay hopeful, but he says the working environment has not been the best. 

“We had a group text earlier this morning and all of us said this would happen again,” Lowery said. "Maybe we didn't expect it so soon. Maybe we were expecting August or September."

Instead the decision came right before Fourth of July, which he says is usually the busiest day of the summer.

Falkner, owner of The Nines, thinks these decisions could be made more effectively. He’s actually in the process of opening a new bar and the financial burden he’s been facing is a real struggle. 

“We would have stopped but when the pandemic started, but we had everything already paid for,” he said.

The bar is under construction, and Falkner said it feels weird seeing that right now. 

“I’ve already decided that 2020 is going to be a wash. I don’t expect to make money this year at all,” he said. 

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report for America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email her at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

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