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Neches Brewing Co. asks when it can open – “Two months of no revenue is hard”

PORT NECHES — The Neches Brewing Co. is a family operated brewery on Port Neches Avenue. The first of its kind in Mid-County, the brewery opened three years ago with a family friendly atmosphere.

Owner Tyler Blount said it is brewery’s ambiance that separates the company from the traditional bar-like environment.

For this reason, and many others, the 36-year-old says the independent brewery should be separated under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s restriction order currently grouping clubs, bars and dancehalls together.

“We’re a family bar,” Blount said. “We’ve done a lot of charity stuff for our community, and if you’ve ever came to our bar, listened to live music and saw our community just hanging out as a whole, it’s a special thing.

“My wife’s a school teacher. We have two kids. We’re just a normal family trying to make a living and we aren’t able to open.”

Neches Brewing Co. owner Tyler Blount, right, and musician Thomas Teague, right, clink glasses. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Phase I of the state’s reopening included restaurants functioning at a 25 percent capacity with strict sanitation guidelines.

The second step opened cosmetology salons last Friday with gyms and exercise facilities currently in the works for next Monday.

Following in the footsteps of the salon industry, Blount reached out to local and government officials hoping to make enough noise to reopen small bars and breweries earlier than planned.

“We were in Galveston last week, we’re sitting on The Strand having a beer and I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to make a Facebook message,” Blount said. “Which I did, tagging [Jefferson County Judge] Jeff Branick and Greg Abbott in it. I basically just described how it’s not fair that a restaurant or any other business is able to open, but a bar is not.”

Blount’s message to Branick pleads for the reopening of the 2,000-square foot bar, even if it’s only at a 25 percent capacity.

Neches Brewing Co., 1108 Port Neches Ave., is selling 64-ounce growlers Monday-Saturday.

“My little family brewpub is still limited to just beers to go and I’m grateful for that, but that little bit of revenue is barely covering the electric bill,” Blount wrote. “I have a 2,000-square foot bar and an occupancy of 100 people. So if I’m able to have the 25 percent that’s required, that would put everyone at least 10 feet apart or more.”

Blount argued that bars provide much less exposure than most restaurants and currently open beaches.

“In a brewpub setting you only have one person handling the product,” he said. “In a restaurant you may have several people handling the end product. I can’t seem to find the justification for shutting us down. Maybe bars get a bad reputation, but we’re working honest people who are just trying to make a living.

“Please don’t discriminate us. Our brewery is probably more sanitary than most hospitals. We have to be! Brewing beer requires an extremely sterile environment.”

Neches Brewing Co. is located at 1108 Port Neches Ave. 

Blount’s reopening plans include using single use plastic cups to minimize exposure on glasses, using one bartender who will wear gloves and a mask as needed and maintain the 25 percent capacity with proper social distancing between tables.

“We need a break,” Blount said. “Two months of no revenue is hard. Please open up bars ASAP. If we don’t get good news soon, we may be the next small business that has to shut its doors for good.”

The Neches Brewing Co. is selling 64-ounce growlers to go for $10 a bottle with $12-15 for fill-up. Thirty-two-ounce growlers are also available for $8 a bottle with $10-12 fill ups.

There are currently 18-19 beers on tap with the newest “Boliver” light summer beer available.

The brewery, 1108 Port Neches Ave., is open Monday-Saturday from 2-7 p.m.