HOUSTON – Thousands of bartenders in Texas rejoiced at Monday’s news that they would soon be able to return to work. Theresa Bernal, a bartender at Cozy Corner bar in Harris County for more than 20 years, was among them.
“This is my home, my family,” Bernal said. “It’s been pure hell.”
After nine weeks without a paycheck, Bernal said she had “depleted [her] savings” and was preparing to move in with her youngest daughter when Gov. Greg Abbott made his announcement Monday, allowing bars, breweries and wine tasting rooms to reopen Friday.
Some bar owners defied state orders and have already reopened. Bernal’s boss, Beverly Strain, was about to do the same.
“If we hadn’t gotten open,” Strain said, “I was going to open up (anyway), and let them come after my license, whatever. It was just getting to that point – desperate.”
In Fort Bend County, the Sunrise Sports Bar will finish remodeling just in time for Friday’s reopening.
“I was surprised,” owner Jeanne Landry said. “I figured he’d wait until at least Monday. Then, of course, my phone started blowing up immediately. ‘Can I make a reservation for Friday?!’”
Landry is grateful to have work for her employees, but she wants to be careful.
“I worry about my customers,” she said. “I worry about the spread of coronavirus, and I just wanted everyone to stay safe.”
“I would feel horrible if somebody got sick at this bar,” she added.
Landry plans to take customers’ temperatures at the door and hand out masks and Lysol wipes to those interested.
Tables will be spaced out and bar stools will be removed for now, she said.