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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Breweries, wineries deserve to open

Breweries are not bars. Wineries are not bars. Breweries and wineries deserve to open.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that all bars, grouping breweries and wineries in that category, to close in order to quell the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. That order came over six weeks ago.

It’s been six weeks since local companies such as Neches Brewing Company, Pour Brothers Brewery and Cotton Creek Winery have opened their doors for anything more than a quick grab-n-go refill.

Neches Brewing Company owner Tyler Blount, along with other local owners, gathered outside the Jefferson County Courthouse five days ago during Gov. Abbott’s visit to protest the unfairness.

Blount shared on the business’ Facebook page his disappointment.

“My daughter Logan and I, along with our other brewery and winery owners, stood outside in the rain at the Jefferson County Courthouse to get some answers on why we’re still shutdown,” he wrote. “Greg Abbott is still saying that places like ours can’t be responsible and therefore must remain closed.”

Blount said it’s like a bad dream.

“We’ve done everything right, every mandate asked of us, and have also gone way beyond that to open back up safely. Living the American dream seems more like a nightmare,” he said.

When asked about a possible reopening timeline during the visit, Abbott did not give a date.

“If we are able to get to a positivity rate of well below 10 percent and maintain that positivity rate and are able to get to the situation where we were back in May with low hospitalizations,” Abbott said. “It’s important now more than ever for the county to stick together.”

As a former bartender and restaurant employee, breweries are closer to restaurants than bars.

They provide live music, good drinks and a place for family and friends to gather around and talk about life.

Breweries are not dance halls. Breweries are not strip clubs. Breweries are restaurants without food and they rely on regulars, friends and family to make a living.

Right now, they are not making a living, but watching their hard earned dreams slowly fall away for falling under one unfair, unjustifiable category.

Last week, Southeast Texas Foodies posted on Facebook that the Cotton Creek Winery in Beaumont only sold one bottle of wine.

An interview of Pour Brothers Brewery on KFDM depicted an owner who saw his business closing within weeks without a higher revenue stream.

These are names and faces in a community. They are not large conglomerates, chains or business whose CEO is someone no one’s ever met. They deserve the chance to show that they can open just as safely as any restaurant.

Buckstin Brewing Co. in Nederland is a perfect example of that. The Boston Avenue business reopened this month after applying for new licensing as a restaurant and should be looked to as an example.

Open breweries. Open wineries. They are not bars.

To support local business, buy beer from a brewery, crack open a bottle of wine from a local winery and join the Southeast Texas annual Brewery Poker Run on Aug. 29.

To make your voice heard, call 512-463-1782.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.