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TABC Alters Rules So More Bars In Texas Can Reopen As Restaurants

Dive Bar & Lounge in Austin announced its permanent closure in July. New rules approved Tuesday aim to help keep bars afloat during the pandemic.
Dive Bar & Lounge in Austin announced its permanent closure in July. New rules approved Tuesday aim to help keep bars afloat during the pandemic.

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The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission passed rules Tuesday aimed at making it easier for bars to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott  ordered Texas bars to close in late June in response to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state. The TABC considers an establishment a bar if it makes 51% or more of its revenue off alcohol sales.

Restaurants were allowed to remain open, but at 50% capacity. Some bars started  innovating to meet requirements to allow them to reopen as restaurants.

The emergency rules TABC approved Tuesday aim to eliminate hurdles in applying for a Food and Beverage Certificate, the certification that enables a bar to be considered a restaurant.

Bars now don’t have to have commercial-grade cooking equipment and can sell premade food from other sites to qualify. They can also partner with food trucks to help them increase their food sales.

“Many establishments that would have otherwise remained shuttered will be able to reopen and operate in a safe manner due to these amendments,” TABC said in a  board document about the changes.

TABC also eliminated a requirement to submit floor plans of the areas dedicated to the preparation of food and a requirement to redo menus to make food options more prominent than alcoholic beverages.  

Got a tip? Email Marisa Charpentier at  mcharpentier@kut.org . Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.

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