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

Dallas News

Liquor licenses have been temporarily revoked at four restaurant-bars in Dallas after Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agents say COVID-19 protocols were not followed.

High Fives, XOXO Dining Room, Shuck N Jive and Alamo Club cannot sell alcohol for 30 days, according to the emergency suspension orders. The orders do not require the establishments to close temporarily, says TABC spokesman Chris Porter. However, three of the four Dallas bars listed here chosen to close temporarily, as of Oct. 27.

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

Shuck N Jive and Alamo Club, both on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, were cited simply for serving customers. Both are classified as bars in Dallas County. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave county leaders the jurisdiction 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 be inclined to stand or sit close to one another.

Shuck N Jive will continue selling food to-go, according to an employee.

Alamo Club is temporarily closed. A post on Alamo Club’s Instagram page says they didn’t have a food and beverage certificate and that they hope to have a “rerereopening” if and when that certificate is secured.

Many bars in Dallas County have been able to open during the pandemic if they secure a food and beverage permit, thus requiring them to sell more food than alcohol. TABC recently relaxed some of its rules, which have allowed more bars to be reclassified as restaurants.

The other two bars cited by TABC, XOXO Dining Room on Ross Avenue and High Fives on Henderson Avenue, failed to enforce social distancing and “minimum standard health protocols,” TABC documents say. Minimum standard health protocols are four pages of rules set forth by the Texas Department of State Health Services for restaurants and bars. They include: partitions must be placed between booths; tables can’t seat more than six people; employees must have their temperatures taken before a shift; and dozens of others.

At both XOXO and High Fives, the TABC suspension order says their patrons were standing up, unmasked. Abbott’s order says everyone inside an establishment must wear masks unless they’re “seated at a restaurant to eat or drink.”

XOXO Dining Room was closed Oct. 27 but is expected to reopen Oct. 28 and serve food, says attorney Jason Friedman. He says the staff “has no knowledge of any code violation.”

High Fives opened on Henderson Avenue in summer 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 operate The Whippersnapper, another Dallas bar that received a TABC violation last week for being open as a bar during the pandemic.

“We certainly know we’re being watched, as everyone should be,” Hays says.

He says a TABC employee offered him a “settlement”: The bar’s liquor license will not be revoked for 30 days, but the bar will be required to close at midnight instead of 2 a.m. It isn’t clear yet which punishment will be applied to High Fives.

Hays notes that the 30-day suspension landed during crucial moneymaking days.

“It’s disheartening: We just lost Halloween. We just lost the night before Thanksgiving,” Hays says.

High Fives is closed for now.

These four Dallas businesses were the only ones in Texas with revoked liquor licenses in the past seven days, after agents conducted 1,232 inspections. Since July 1, TABC agents have completed 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 at @sblaskovich.

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