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As state enters Phase Two, Tallahassee bar owners still worry about future

Bars, entertainment venues now allowed to reopen
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 18:27:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Friday is the first day of Florida's Phase Two of reopening, meaning entertainment venues like movie theatres and bars are open again.

To start off, not all your favorite bars are opening right away. Some say they're not prepared yet.

Others, like Bullwinkle's, say they couldn't be more ready to let customers back in.

"It was, 'Woah, thank you, finally,'" said Steven Bailey, the owner of Bullwinkle's Saloon.

Bailey says he could not be more excited to re-open Bullwinkle's after three long months without making money.

"We were on the verge of buying a restaurant license and becoming a restaurant to be open," Bailey said. "To do some kind of business."

Now, the place known for live music and drinks will be taking things slowly. Sanitizer will be stationed and employees will wear masks.

Bailey says he wants to be patient for his customers and let them know there's plenty of room for social distancing since the bar has several outdoor and indoor seating areas.

"Ten people here, ten people there, six people here, six people there, four people there," Bailey said. "And groups of people that come in together and know each other can sort of have their own little area."

Everybody who comes in also needs to stay seated to prevent roaming and breaking social distancing rules.

Across town, Clyde's and Costello's owner, Dave Ericks, has one word for these rules:

"It's hypocritical," said Ericks.

Ericks says the new rules are part of the reason they're holding off on reopening until Monday at the earliest.

"Is it fair to say to us, 'You've let restaurants open at 100 percent and you can sit at the bar?'" Ericks said. "'Matter of fact, you can't serve anyone who's not sitting at a table.'"

Ericks says another reason is supply. Distributors couldn't bring shipments in fast enough for Friday.

Ericks says now he's waiting and worries what the coronavirus pandemic, tied together with the new rules, will do to the future of Tallahassee.

"I'm trying to figure things out but at the same time, yes we're happy to get open but I don't know," siad Ericks. "I think 30 percent of the bars will never reopen again."

Another worry both bars have is how they're going to stay open now.

Ericks says some bars have to take out loans to survive the summertime here since students and lawmakers aren't around.

Now, they're all beginning the summer in the red.