‘This is part of our livelihood’: Houston bartender, who worked rodeo, pro sports, hopeful she can return to job she loves

Beer selection from Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Beer selection from Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Earlier this week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo ordered all Houston-area bars to close in order to help combat the spread of COVID-19. She also ordered that all restaurants close dine-in and only provide delivery, curbside or drive-thru services.

This move affects more than 250,000 employees and business owners in the county.

One of those it impacts is Stacie Morton, a bartender and waitress who works at several Houston venues and events including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park. With the closures, Morton said she lost “a chunk of her income.”

“This is part of our livelihood," she said. “Many of us use this money for yearly house payments, car payments, vacations, and just overall bills.”

Morton is assigned work through Aramark, working at NRG Stadium during Rodeo season. She says it is the season of the year she most looks forward to, though she also loves the Houston Astros, Houston Texans, and Houston Rockets seasons.

With many people like Morton out of work for an indefinite amount of time, the Houston Astros have pledged $1 million to help Minute Maid workers who would fall on tough times due to the pandemic. Irish Distiller Jameson pledged at least $500,000 to the United States Bartenders Guild to help any bartenders affected by the closures.

“[It’s] a wonderful gesture to try to help the people that put on your event, behind and in front of the scenes,” Morton said. “Without us, it would not work.”

For out-of-work employees, there’s unemployment as well as waiting out for the pandemic to blow through. Morton plans to file for unemployment and does not plan to find another job as she hopes to return soon to the job she loves.

“I have a strong system in my family, I trust everything will work out,” she said. “This will pass and hopefully we will be a better society because of it.”