Bar, restaurant owners awaiting effects of new health department directive as restrictions loom

Shelby County bars ordered to close again

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Under a new Shelby County Health Department directive restaurants in Shelby County will have to close at 10 pm beginning Thursday. Bars will have to close altogether. It is all in an effort to stop the recent alarming spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s unclear how much this is going to hurt us,” said Will Goodwin, co-founder of Crosstown Brewing Company.

Goodwin has been through previous shutdowns in March and April so he’s learned brewery’s like his can still package beer for takeout to help with business. 

Shelby Co Health Department orders bars to close

”First and foremost, it’s the health and safety of our employees, our customers, our community,” said Goodwin. “That’s what is important.”

Goodwin has done a lot to be safe like buying a tent with socially distanced picnic tables.

”I think if the people are your close friends and you’re practicing social distancing and wearing your mask when you are indoors and doing everything you can do it’s OK to be outside,” said customer Halle Griggs.

But it is apparently not OK at bars which Crosstown Brewing falls under.

According to the Shelby County Health Department’s website, a bar is a place that does not serve food.

Crosstown does not serve food, just like Wiseacre Brewery that announced it will be closing its taproom for draft beer service at its Broad Avenue and downtown locations. 

You can still get packaged beer to go and for delivery.

The health department issued the directive that bars had to close. And restaurants have to close by 10 p.m. It all comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise at record numbers.

Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force update -- July 7

”We’re a restaurant. We serve food, oysters, pizza potatoes,” said Michael Kuntzman. manager of The Cove on Broad Avenue.

It is a good example of how few bars exist in Shelby County under the health department’s definition.

The Cove has taken quite a few precautions like social distancing and plenty of cleaning. And The Cove, like other restaurants, will have to close at 10 p.m.

”I think we can make enough to get by if people come and have drinks safely,” said Kuzman. “Not that worried about it.”

Caroline Fleming and maybe Theo, her dog who likes the outdoor socializing, wonders how detrimental the restrictions will be.

”I think it would be detrimental for Memphis businesses to close the bars,” said Fleming. “They’ve been closed for three months.”

The health department’s directive goes into effect Wednesday at midnight. It is not clear how long that will last.

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