Bottled Blonde nightclubs in Dallas and Houston penalized by TABC for lack of masks
After TABC agents visited Bottled Blonde in Dallas and Houston in mid-November, the bars were given separate violations for failing to obey Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency orders for the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Bottled Blonde stores remain open. The TABC violations do not require any of the facilities to be closed.
In Dallas, the bar received a written warning after agents discovered some customers were not wearing masks or social distancing on Nov. 12.
In Houston, the liquor license was suspended for 30 days because operators failed to enforce the 6-foot social distancing requirement on Nov. 15. During the same visit, agents also discovered that some customers were not wearing masks, which is a requirement for patrons staying in a Texas home as per the governor’s instructions.
On August 28, 2020, people gathered in front of Bottled Blonde in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. Shortly thereafter, a TABC investigation was closed and the bar was not cited. A TABC spokesman says agents continue to monitor all bars across the state even after an investigation is completed.(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)
Bar and restaurant guests do not have to wear masks when they eat, drink or sit, the order states.
Bottled Blonde in Dallas had been the subject of a TABC investigation a few months ago after people complained that the bar appeared to be overcrowded. TABC and Dallas Code Compliance made multiple visits to the bar and found no violations. The numbers tell the story: there were more than 400 people in the bar during one visit at the end of August, but that number complied with the 50% capacity rule of the time. Bottled Blonde is a 22,000 square foot venue that’s roughly four times the size of most restaurants.
For much of 2020, public health officials have kept citizens from going to bars. Even after Governor Abbott allowed most bars across Texas to reopen, judges in Dallas and Harris counties – where every bottled blonde is located – said bars must remain closed for the time being.
Some people have asked how Bottled Blonde in Dallas and Houston, widely considered bars rather than restaurants, could even be open during the COVID-19 crisis.
The answer is that both the Houston and Dallas locations have received food and beverage certification from TABC. Because of this, some bars now charge a nominal fee or require customers to order food: that money counts towards total grocery sales, making alcohol-powered establishments function more like a restaurant.
In Dallas, Bottled Blonde now calls itself a pizzeria on its website. It has always served food, but so far food has not made up the majority of its revenue.
If both bars were cited for the same thing – a lack of social distancing and a lack of mask-wearing enforcement for those who don’t eat, drink, or sit – why did the Dallas bar receive a written warning and the Houston bar issued a 30-day alcohol license suspension ? Bottled Blonde in Houston had already received a written warning on October 10 of a similar crime.
Typically, the second time a company is found in violation by TABC, a 30-day suspension of the liquor license is the punishment.
The operators of Shuck N Jive, Alamo Club, Ampersand and The Whippersnapper restaurants and bars in Dallas-Fort Worth received bans on alcohol permits last month.
According to TABC spokesman Chris Porter, TABC agents often revisit bars found to be violated to ensure they are following the governor’s instructions.
For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter @sblaskovich.