Friendswood bar owners arrested for allegedly interfering with inspection. Couple says they were targeted for refusing to close

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas – The owners of Friends Pub in Friendswood, Texas aren’t shy about their refusal to shut down per Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, there’s a large banner outside their establishment emblazoned with the words “We refuse to shut down. Please support your local businesses.”

While owners Freddie Randar and Kobra Ghorvani suspect that had something to do with their recent arrest, Friendswood police cite a different reason.

RELATED: TABC warns it will revoke licenses, shut down bars that defy Gov. Abbott’s order

On August 3, Friendswood police officers arrived at the West Parkwood Avenue pub to do a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission inspection. An attorney for the couple said Ghorvani allowed the officers to do the inspection but decided to call her husband because she felt harassed by the officers.

“We did allow them to do the inspection. They were finished with the inspection and we asked them ‘what are you waiting for to leave,‘” Randar said.

He said he felt as though his bar was being targeted by the Friendswood Police Department ever since he reopened his doors on June 26 in open defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders.

“They’ve been parking right at the front and pulling over whoever comes in or going out. Pulling them over and most of the time letting them go,” Randar said.

Friendswood Police Chief Bob Wieners said officers were inspecting the establishment on Aug. 3 because they’ve discovered a number of impaired drivers leaving the pub.

READ ALSO: Houston bar shut down over weekend for violating COVID-19 restrictions, authorities say

“During the month of July, we had a total of 33 DWI’s and at those 33 DWI’s, we’ve been able to attribute 10 to, you know, folks that had been patrons at Friends Pub,” said Wieners.

Attorney Michael Russo said his clients complied with the inspection. He argues that his clients did not physically interfere.

“My client’s contention is if they were interfering it was only with speech,” said Michael Russo. “Speech is an absolute defense to that charge. It’s in the penal code. They weren’t impeding them. They weren’t physically stopping them.”

Police arrested Randar and his wife. The pair was charged with inspection refusal and interference. Police say more charges are pending.

Randar said he refused to close his establishment because his business and staff have suffered enough during the first statewide mandatory closure. He said his pub serves more food than alcohol.