Here's why you may see more bars opening in the Houston area

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Friday, August 28, 2020
Your neighborhood bar could soon reopen under new rules
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The TABC approved a new amendment that removes certain obstacles and makes it easier for bars to be classified as restaurants.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission just implemented emergency measures to make it easier for bars to obtain a food and beverage certificate.

The move could allow a bar to transition into a restaurant and reopen to the public. Restaurants with bars are allowed, as long as 51% or more of their sales comes from food.

The new rule eliminates a commercial kitchen requirement for the business. It also allows a business to sell packaged items and count food truck sales into their percentage.

The Marquis II in West University place obtained their certificate on Thursday. Owner Al Jara said they plan to reopen Monday with safety as their number one priority.

"We are no longer a bar, we are now a restaurant," said Jara. "Our sales have to be 51% food. When you're a small business, you have to learn how to pivot, especially in 2020. This is a pivot for us. It's something that we think we can do responsibility."

Meanwhile, at the Julep cocktail bar along Houston's Washington Avenue, owner Alba Huerta is hesitant about the new rules.

She said they've already seen mixed messages and changing requirements throughout the pandemic. She said leaders need to come up with clear standards if they want small businesses to pull through this ordeal. Huerta said she feels they can safely reopen the bar.

"I do. I felt that I safely reopened the bar the first time we were allowed to reopen," said Huerta. "I do feel that we held those standards."

Mayor Sylvester Turner, however, feels this may not be the right time for the move.

"Though I recognize every business wants to open and return to normal operations, these are not normal times," he said in a statement issued on Thursday. "It has taken months to get our positivity rate back below 10% and it really needs to be at 5% or below and remain there for 14 consecutive days before I would ease restrictions on bars. Otherwise we will never be able to manage this virus successfully and everyone will pay the price. What is being proposed by TABC and bars will not work to contain the virus."

RELATED: Bars that disobey Gov'.s order will get shut down, TABC warns

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