The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has passed new guidelines that may ease the process of allowing businesses currently classified as bars to obtain a food and beverage license and re-open as a restaurant.  This I’m sure comes as welcome news to some local business owners that are trying to keep their establishment afloat during this pandemic.

The rules voted on and approved by TABC include getting rid of the requirement that states a bar would need to have an on-site kitchen in order to obtain a food and beverage license.  This was no doubt a hurdle for some bar owners who simply may not have had the space or resources to renovate buildings in order to add a kitchen.  Additionally, pre-packaged items and even sales from food trucks can be counted as revenue towards the requirement stating that 51% of sales must be from food.

This opens up the possibility of having a bar partner up with a food truck, which is already a common practice, and having those sales count towards their attempt to reclassify as a restaurant.

TABC’s updated rules don’t override the restrictions put back in place by Governor Abbott in June but they may provide a much-needed lifeline for some business owners in El Paso and around the state.  Capacity must still be capped at 50% and patrons will need to sit at a table and have their food and drinks brought to them instead of getting them directly from the bar.  Additionally, masks still need to be worn when not sitting at a table.

If bar owners are responsible and compliant with the new guidelines, and many are, then I’m all for allowing them to reopen for business under the current rules.  They’re small busines owners too and let’s not forget they also employ many of the people that are currently out of work.  If this saves at least one establishment from having to permanently close down solely due to not being allowed to operate during the COVID pandemic, then I say it’s a great first step.

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