TABC penalizes 4 restaurant-bars in Dallas for violating COVID-19 rules

Alcohol permits were temporarily revoked at four restaurant bars in Dallas after officials from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission stated they were not following COVID-19 protocols.

High Fives, XOXO Dining Room, Shuck N Jive, and Alamo Club cannot sell alcohol for 30 days according to emergency lockdown orders. The orders don’t require the facilities to be temporarily closed, says TABC spokesman Chris Porter. However, three of the four Dallas bars listed here had decided to temporarily close on October 27th.

[Update on Oct. 29, 2020: The company that operates XOXO has sued TABC and its executive director Bentley Nettles, saying it waited four days from the date of the violation to deliver the emergency suspension order. The 42-page lawsuit calls the suspension “a charade.”]

The reasons a restaurant or bar might receive a 30-day license suspension vary.

Shuck N Jive and Alamo Club, both on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, were cited for customer support only. Both are classified as bars in Dallas County. Texas Governor Greg Abbott gave county leaders the power to decide whether bars can reopen during the pandemic, and so far Judge Clay Jenkins has kept bars closed in Dallas County.

Jenkins has said that the coronavirus can spread more easily in bars where people might tend to stand or sit close together.

According to one employee, Shuck N Jive will continue to sell take-away groceries.

The Alamo Club is temporarily closed. A post on the Alamo Club’s Instagram page says there is no food and drink certificate and is hoping for a “reopening” when this certificate is secured.

Many Dallas County’s bars were allowed to open during the pandemic if they were given food and drink permits, requiring them to sell more food than alcohol. TABC recently relaxed some of its rules that have made it possible to classify more bars than restaurants.

The other two bars cited by TABC, XOXO Dining Room on Ross Avenue and High Fives on Henderson Avenue, have not enforced social distancing and “minimum standard health protocols” according to TABC documents. The minimum health protocols have four pages of rules established by the Texas Department of Health for restaurants and bars. These include: partitions must be placed between cabins; Tables cannot accommodate more than six people; and the temperatures of the employees must be measured before a shift.

Both XOXO and High Fives state in the TABC suspension regulation that their customers stood up exposed. Abbott’s orders are that everyone in a company must wear masks unless they are “in a restaurant to eat or drink”.

[Update on Oct. 30, 2020: XOXO Dining Room reopened and started selling alcohol again on Oct. 30. Dallas County judge Bridgett Whitmore signed an order that temporarily lifts XOXO’s 30-day liquor license suspension while the case is ongoing. The business has to stop alcohol sales at midnight, per the judge’s order.]

High Fives opened on Henderson Avenue in the summer of 2015.High Fives opened on Henderson Avenue in the summer of 2015.(Lawrence E. Jenkins / Special Contributor)

The suspension was the second in two weeks for Brandon Hays, co-owner of High Fives. He and his team also run The Whippersnapper, another bar in Dallas that received a TABC violation last week for being open as a bar during the pandemic.

“We know for sure that we are being watched as everyone should be,” says Hays.

He says a TABC employee offered him “an agreement”: The bar’s license for alcohol will not be revoked for 30 days, but the bar must close at midnight instead of 2am

[Update on Oct. 30, 2020: Hays accepted the settlement and reopened High Fives on Oct. 31.]

These four Dallas companies were the only ones in Texas to have their licenses revoked in the past seven days after agents conducted 1,232 inspections. As of July 1, TABC agents have conducted 19,000 inspections, resulting in 308 written warnings and 174 suspensions, according to the TABC spokesman.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter @sblaskovich.

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