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Southeast Texas bar, brewery owners excited to reopen after governor's announcement

While they'll have to stick to a 25% capacity rule, owners say they're eager to have customers return to their businesses.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Bar and brewery owners in Southeast Texas felt left out of the governor's plan for reopening, with some just trying to financially stay afloat. 

They argued they could safely reopen and now their calls have been heard.

Scott Reeves owns Struggle Street Brewing Company in Beaumont, and could barely believe it when he heard the news.

"It was amazing, as soon as he said that I texted my wife and made a Facebook post," Reeves said. "It's been a long time, we've had a lot of customers supporting us through this deal. I'm ready to see everybody hanging out for a minute."

Governor Greg Abbott announced bars can reopen on May 22 at 25% capacity. 

"Taking all of the bar stools out. We're only going to have four tables inside, seat 10-12 people, and then we have a 1,600 square foot patio," Reeves said. 

He says a food truck is scheduled to come out Friday and the brewery will be unveiling new flavors. 

Among the announcements Governor Abbott relayed on Monday, restaurants will also see changes, soon being able to hold 50% capacity inside. 

RELATED: Child care centers, bars and sporting events scheduled for Texas' next phase of reopening

RELATED: Southeast Texas bar, brewery owners fighting to stay afloat with no date set for reopening

Gene Leal with Jason't Deli in Beaumont says the transition should be smooth. 

"It's getting more and more back to normal as far as regular customers, repeat customers coming in. It feels good," Leal said. "We have a lot of social distancing practices inside the dining room right now that we've had the company said up."

Even as Texas ramps up and reopens, one Southeast Texas doctor encourages everyone to be careful. 

Dr. Ray Callas says the last thing he wants to see is customers inside businesses mingling in large groups. 

"From a healthcare standpoint, we need to continue to socially distance and wash our hands. Still avoid large groups of people at all costs," Callas said. "If we start to allow everyone to mingle and we're not abiding by the rules, then I could see a resurgence and that's one thing we definitely don't need."

He tells 12News he's noticed some restaurants not adhering to social distancing guidelines and wants businesses to be held accountable as well.

Beaumont city councilman Mike Getz says enforcement of the capacity limits will be a shared responsibility between the fire marshal and code enforcement department, but only after someone make a complaint.

Mike Hamilton, who owns The West on Calder Avenue, says it's been a challenge trying to figure out what his bar and grill can and can't do. 

"I don't even know. I mean that's how it has been the whole time, we don't even know. We're doing the best we can," Hamilton said. 

In terms of adhering to protocol, tables are spaced out and Hamilton says "We do kind of remind people, 'if you're not with those people, say hi from the other table."

While it's not truly back to normal, he tells 12News opening up safely is priority one. 

"We want a 100 percent, we want 100 percent but we also want everybody to be safe," Hamilton said. 

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