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'We're not a bar'| Beaumont winery owner feeling impact of state rollbacks amid COVID-19 surge

Restaurants are back down to half capacity, but it's bars that are having to close shop.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The vaccines couldn't come soon enough for Southeast Texas business owners forced to scale back. Restaurants are back down to half-capacity. But it's bars that are having to close shop.

One business owner said she doesn't know how long her business will last.

Traci Tucker, owner of Cotton Creek Winery, said she kind of expected the state to rollback reopening, but it still hurts.

"Here we go again. Here we go again," Tucker said.

That's what Tucker said to herself when she got the news Monday that Gov. Greg Abbott ordered another round of tight COVID-19 rules. Those rules include reducing capacities and in some cases shutdowns.

RELATED: SE Texas businesses forced to scale back as a result of the region's high hospitalization rate

"Disappointing, but with everything going on, it wasn't surprising." Tucker said.

Although her venue can't host wine tastings or wine tours, she doesn't have to close her doors completely. Cotton Creek is permitted to offer to-go orders and to operate like a retail store.

"We're just gonna be losing the dine-in and people coming in, but at least they'll still be able to buy their Christmas presents and their wine for their dinners and gifts and everything like that," Tucker said.

It's been a rollercoaster year for small business owners. First, a longer-than-expected shut down followed by the loosening up of restrictions only to end up back here with empty tables and empty chairs.


"We still have to pay rent. We still have to pay electricity. We still have to pay insurance. We still have to pay the water bill. We still have to pay the cable bill," Tucker said.


This is challenging for Tucker and her husband who have owned the winery for five and a half years. And it's why they're fighting to be re-classified, so they aren't considered a bar under state law.

"We're not a nightclub. We're not a bar. We are a winery," Tucker said.

Tucker said she feels like her winery and other similar businesses are being singled out. She along with other winery and brewery owners across the area have reached out to Gov. Abbott repeatedly.

So far, they haven't had any luck, and they said it's frustrating.

"It's like hitting your head against a brick wall because nobody's gonna listen to us. Nobody's hearing us, and that's the hard part," Tucker said.

Tucker said she feels like the state is costing itself billions of dollars for punishing wineries and breweries that are not truly bars or nightclubs.

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