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Last call? San Antonio-area bars have to close at 11 p.m. while bars-turned-restaurants can stay open longer

Even as establishments prepare for weekend crowds, at least one bar owner says "it's still going to be tough for me."

SAN ANTONIO — For months, the streets of St. Paul Square have been stagnant. That was until they found their alibi. 

"I was absolutely elated," said Nick Johnson, the owner of Alibis Sports & Spirits. "It's been a long time, it's been a huge anticipation." 

For the first time in four months, Johnson has a reason to smile. It had been more than 100 days since he was able to serve a beer, but that countdown will reset as the weekend gets underway; the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission has given the green light for Bexar County bars to partially reopen. 

   

"It was good for me to get back and see a lot of my old patrons," Johnson said.

But the reunion with customers comes with a catch. The TABC is only allowing bars to open with 50% capacity indoors, and with an 11 p.m. curfew.

Meanwhile, bars that won their restaurant license during the pandemic are still able to stay open at 75% capacity past 11:00 p.m. 

The discrepancy has Johnson scratching his head. 

"It's not like people are going out to dinner at 1 a.m.," he said. "Ninety percent of my business is after 9 p.m., and I'd say 80% of that business is after 11 p.m. So it's still going to be tough for me." 

It's a tough situation TABC says they’re trying to work through, but for now officials say the rules will remain in place.

"It's really just a way that state officials can ensure that customers are able to maintain their responsibility and their presence of mind as they're going about the reopening," said Chris Porter, a TABC spokesperson. 

As the weeks go on, Johnson hopes he can reopen just a little more to give his customers another reason to celebrate. Another alibi.