Bar owners forced to closed during the pandemic gets evicted for past due commercial rent

HOUSTON – Restaurants and bars across the state of Texas are hemorrhaging their businesses due to COVID-19.

They’ve been shut down, partially re-opened, and in the case of bars shut down once more. Some businesses have even had to close for good due to the financial strain, said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, vice president of Government Relations and Advocacy for the Texas Restaurant Association.

“When our small businesses close they’re no longer paying taxes to the state and so you see this shrinking of the economy,” Erickson Streufert said.

Bar owner Allan Nicholson lost his eviction hearing Tuesday in Justice of The Peace Court in Spring. Judge Lincoln Goodwin ruled that Nicholson must vacate Nose Dive Bar within 15 days. The disabled combat veteran turned bar owner was behind nearly three-months rent totaling $8,815.

Nicholson was served an eviction notice earlier this month by Gach LLC.

“They basically said because I haven’t paid the rent they don’t want to take my rent,” Nicholson said. “I have the federal money and I offered to pay and they just straight up told the judge we don’t want the money we want him out.”

Nicholson said without customers or revenue coming in he could only afford to make partial payments. That wasn’t enough for him to save his bar which he poured his life savings into.

“Business is business. I went in knowing the risk but how horrible is it that there were probably 40 other evictions happening for people in apartments,” Nicholson said.

The Texas Restaurant Association is working to help protect businesses from evictions as part of their Restaurant Survival Plan. There are seven other items listed in the plan, including grant money available for restaurants to train their employees online.

“We got a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to roll that program out so that 500 restaurants can take advantage of it for free,” Erickson Streufert said.

The association knows if businesses fail the economy will take a hit too.

“I think one of the hardest parts about this is we don’t know where the bottom is,” Erickson Streufert said. “I can’t tell our restaurants just hold on for two more weeks and this is going to get better because right now we don’t know.”

Nicholson said he is planning to appeal the eviction.