A Longview bar that defied a statewide order Friday to close has had its liquor permit suspended 30 days by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Outlaws Longview owner Melissa Lynn Kelly said Friday that her bar would maintain business hours unless an authority enforces Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to shut her down.
Abbott on Friday ordered bars to shut down again and also scaled back restaurant capacity from 75% to 50% because of rising COVID-19 cases.
Chris Porter, spokesman for the TABC, said in a statement that Outlaws was one of two bars in the state that decided to remain open Friday after being visited by TABC agents.
“TABC agents visited 628 bars across Texas Friday night, finding just 30 bars open in violation of the governor’s executive order,” Porter said. “After TABC agents spoke with management and provided them with the executive order, 28 bars agreed to shut their doors. Two remained open, defying the governor’s executive order. TABC issued an emergency order to suspend the liquor permits of those bars for 30 days.”
The Whiskey Girl in Abilene is the other bar that had its permit suspended.
“We want to thank bar owners across the state who are making great sacrifices to protect their fellow Texans,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said in the statement. “We know bar and restaurant owners have been suffering mightily throughout this pandemic. By taking these extraordinary steps to limit capacity and close doors, lives will be saved and we can increase the chances of successfully reopening businesses in the future.”
Porter said the agency has the authority to suspend any license that poses a continuing threat to the public welfare with the first infraction resulting in a 30-day license suspension and the second resulting in a 60-day suspension.
Kelly defied the initial order that shut bars effective midnight March 20 by reopening Outlaws Longview at 4 p.m. May 15, a week before Abbott allowed bars to open back up at 25% capacity.
“I am not going down easy. I am going down with a fight,” she said Friday. “If I shut down after being shut down, I might as well turn in my license.”
A GoFundMe page has been started to help raise money for Kelly’s attorney fees.
The TABC asks residents to report possible violations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-888-THE-TABC.