KILGORE, Texas (KETK) – The Machine Shed in Kilgore has opened on Saturday in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to close bars until further notice.
On June 26, Abbott ordered all bars to close in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
- All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 p.m. on Friday. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
- Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor capacity, beginning Monday, June 29.
- Rafting and tubing businesses must close
- Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.
Shortly after, more than 30 Texas bars filed a lawsuit challenging Abbott’s emergency order. Among the 30, the Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore, Outlaws Bar, and The Electric Cowboy have positioned themselves in a legal standoff with the governor.
In the lawsuit, the bar owners argue that their rights have been “trampled” by Abbott while “thousands of businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy.” Nearly 800,000 workers in the restaurant industry have lost their jobs since March, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.
All three local bars defied Abbott’s order to close, causing the TABC to suspend their licenses for 30 days.
To make their voice heard, owners and local supporters gathered to protest.
“He’s closed down two of my businesses, I have no income whatsoever, my employees didn’t get a paycheck Friday, we have no income, the gas is cut off , the electrics next, I can’t pay the rent,” explained Tee Allen Parker, owner of Machine Shed Bar & Grill.
While the 30-day suspension has expired for some bars, owners are opening up their doors in spite of the emergency order.