El Paso bars look for loopholes as they’re ordered to close

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Bar owners in the Cincinnati Entertainment District say the decision to close bars across the Sun City on St. Patrick’s Day, a day that is typically one of their biggest money-making days of the year, could cost them thousands of dollars in sales.

“Can you wait one more day? At least one more day,” asked Frank Ricci, owner of Rockin’ Cigar Bar.

Bar owners are frustrated with City Council’s emergency ordinance closing bars and clubs for at least two weeks as a COVID-19 precaution, a measure taken by other cities across the country.

“Well, El Paso has this mentality that as soon New York or California does something they have to jump on the bandwagon,” Ricci said.

Ricci says he’s worried about his costs, his sales, and his employees.

“We have rents to pay we have employees to pay we have taxes to pay I just paid $20,000 in sales tax that was due and that money is gone,” Ricci said. “Virus or no virus, my landlord’s still going to need his money.”

With City Council’s ordinance allowing restaurants to remain open under limitations, Ricci says he’ll rely on that to try and get by.

“We’re going to sanitize our tables we’re going to put six people per table and keep 50 people in the bar,” explained Ricci.

Meanwhile, bar employees are left looking for answers.

“This is what provides food for my family,” said Rockin’ Cigar employee Cindi Gunderson.

Restaurants are still allowed to serve alcohol but patrons can’t sit at the bar. Employees say the restaurant revenue won’t cut it for tips.

“It’s a bar and grill, therefore, most of the sales we have is going to be alcohol yes it’s going to affect every bar owner out there doesn’t matter if you serve food or not, “Gunderson said.

The order closing bars and clubs is to be effective for at least two weeks, ending on April 1 at 8 a.m. as of now. Bars who violate the order face a $500 fine.

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