FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – “The World’s Largest Honkey Tonk,” Billy Bob’s Texas has convinced the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to reclassify the music venue after being shut down by Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order.
“Our restaurant is now the entire club,” said Marty Travis, general manager of Billy Bob’s. “Our restaurant’s just really big, with a dance floor and it has a retail store in it. It’s almost like a mall.”
At the end of June, Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order forced establishments that earn 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol sales to close their doors in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Billy Bob’s went from 270 employees to 10.
“By the permit we have, we’re a bar,” Travis said. “It’s a numbers game with TABC for food and beverage.”
The TABC is now giving bars like Billy Bob’s the chance to reopen if they can alter their business model.
“And once they do that, they can then operate under the same capacity and social distancing that other restaurants in Texas are operating under,” said Chris Porter, the public information officer for TABC.
Since the end of June, TABC has processed about 250 requests from bars across the state looking to change their business model to operate as restaurants or to update their sales figures to prove they’re below that 51% threshold.
When Billy Bob’s opens its doors, patrons will have to pass a temperature check on their way in, wear masks, and maintain social distance.
“I feel as safe going to this club as I do going to Albertsons shopping, so it’s good to go,” said Jacky Swan, who’s been coming to the live venue music every weekend for nearly 40 years.
Hand sanitizer stations are set up throughout the club, and capacity will be limited to about 1,000 people.
“We have to be aggressive, we have to be diligent, we have to be serious about the protocols we’re putting in place,” Travis said.
As soon as their new TABC permit comes through next week, Billy Bob’s plans to reopen during the day and through the evening on Friday and Saturday nights.