Houston-area business owners react to Abbott's order closing bars

Dozens of Texas bar owners are suing the governor for the right to remain open. Many of the 50 Texas bar owners who are suing Governor Greg Abbott say they're in jeopardy of losing their business if they’re forced to close again due to the pandemic.

MORE: Texas Bar and Nightclub Association sues state over latest shutdowns

"It’s not just closing a bar. You’re literally destroying our lives,” says Holly Hunt Robertson Owner of Sharky’s Tavern.

After being closed because of COVID-19 for three weeks, then re-opening, now Sharky’s in Galveston has closed again due to the pandemic.

"I have to make money. I’ve got family to support. My employees have family to support. My musicians have family to support. I have musicians in here every night and they’re independent musicians so they don’t get unemployment. Some of my eleven employees, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to get unemployment,” says Robertson.

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"It’s crushed us. I’ve been here for 25 years and for the first time I contemplated shutting down. My daddy started this bar,” says Gabrielle Ellison owner of Big Daddy Zane’s bar in Odessa.

Against Governor Abbott’s orders to close, Ellison is keeping her bar open. Ellison was already arrested once for failing to close due to COVID-19. She believes bars should be allowed open with safety measures in place.

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"We have hand sanitizer on every single table. My girls, we take out our stuff every 2 to 3 days and we disinfect the whole property,“ says Ellison.

Attorney Jared Woodfill has filed a lawsuit against Governor Abbott on behalf of dozens of bar owners. "The same time he’s shutting down bars he’s allowing barbers, cosmetologists, tattoo studios, ear-piercing studios, hair removal studios to all stay open". 

"We’re being targeted as a bar industry but restaurants that also have bars have been able to remain open,” adds Hunt Robertson.

The lawsuit also claims the decision should be considered by the legislature.

“Instead we have a governor who continues to act like a king and ignore what our duly elected representatives have to say,” says Woodfill.

“This is not a monarchy, it’s a republic. I just feel we have been stripped of all rights,” says Robertson.

The lawsuit was just filed after the governor’s order on Friday. So a court date hasn’t been set yet.

Meanwhile, seven bars have had their alcohol permits suspended by TABC for 30 days for failing to close. Two of them are in the greater Houston area.

MORE: TABC suspends seven bars, two in southeast Texas, for not complying with Abbott's order to close bars