BAY COUNTY, (Fla) — It has been a difficult year for bar owners who have lost a lot of business throughout the pandemic.
Bars have been opening and closing over the past few months based on government orders, and some believe this is just not fair.
After being closed for about two months bars were allowed to reopen in June and as expected many flocked right back to the bar stools.
Then on June 26 the governor released an executive order banning all on site-consumption of alcoholic drinks at establishments where 50 percent or more of their revenue comes from alcohol sales. However, these places were allowed to serve drinks to go.
Starting Friday, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation will start working with bars and breweries on how to reopen in a smart way.
It’s been a long time since beers flowed from these taps and people filled the bar stools at The Taproom Brewery.
“We were booking six artists a week and then all of a sudden none,” said Matthew Cole. “I miss them terribly.”
Cole is the owner of The Taproom. He has followed all instructions from the DBPR. This meant having his doors closed for the months of April, May and July.
Cole says being closed for this long worries him, but he believes once it is safe to open bars his customers will be back to enjoy their craft beers.
“I think if anything the pandemic has made people thirsty and really excited to get back out and enjoy themselves,” said Cole
Other bars in the area have not been as patient. In order to keep business moving Ms. Newby’s on Thomas Drive just obtained a food license and will begin serving items like hot dogs in order to qualify to serve drinks for onsite consumption.
Alex Davidson and his friends booked their trip down to Panama City Beach before knowing bars were not able to serve drinks on site.
Being a restaurant/bar owner himself he endorses the decision of the owners ofMms. Newbys made to keep their business alive.
“People out here are trying to make a living,” said Davidson. “This is where they are making a living at.”
Now that Ms. Newby’s has this food license, they will be allowed to reopen but with strict rules such as capacity limits, customers must be seated to have a drink and the dance floors will remain closed until further notice.
Some bars and breweries around Florida did file lawsuits against the state out of the fear of losing their business.
The DBPR realizes that owners of bars like Ms. Newbys and The Taproom feel singled out for only being allowed to serve to go drinks while restaurants remain open. They hope these meetings will be a step toward reopening in a safe way to keep Florida’s bars and breweries alive.