DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Lee Harvey’s in Dallas isn’t waiting one second longer than necessary to reopen for business.
Staff on Thursday prepared to start serving drinks at midnight, the moment the governor’s latest amended order takes effect. That gives them just two hours before closing time.
“It’s worth it,” said the bar’s general manager Timm Zbylut, noting the state forced him to close at midnight more than eight weeks ago.
“A lot of people consider bars, restaurants, your favorite bar, restaurant, as like a second home. We’re just looking forward to welcome people home,” he said.
Late into the evening, he was still spacing out tables on the bar’s large patio, making sure they’re six feet apart. Each one can hold groups of up to six people, but no more.
Zbylut has used his extra tables to block off the bar, which the state has deemed off limits to customers.
At a counter with barstools, he’s marked off where customers can sit to maintain six feet of distance between them.
“It’s important that we just open up safely, follow the protocol, add some normalcy back to people’s lives,” said Zbylut.
In the nearby Oak Lawn neighborhood, Alexandre’s will stay closed.
“There’s nothing I want more than to serve a cocktail to someone right now, but we’re going to do it when it’s safe, and for us personally, that’s not right now,” said owner Lee Daugherty.
He said not all bars can easily create a safe environment.
“There’s many bars that have poor ventilation. There’s many bars that don’t have patios, have small patios,” he said. “In those scenarios, it’s very dangerous with what’s going on right now and how we know this thing spreads.”
Some smaller bars have also said, with their occupancy capped to 25%, they can’t make enough money to justify opening.
If Daughterty did re-open, he believes he could have a maximum of 20 people in the bar at one time.
Zbylut is keeping the interior of Lee Harvey’s, which could allow no more than 12 people, closed.
If that was the only space he had available, he admits, he likely wouldn’t reopen either.
“I think that’s what a lot of bars are struggling with. You get the green light to open at 25%. But it’s just not worth it,” he said.
He doesn’t have big expectations for his first night back, but he’s eager to catch up with the customers he’s missing.