Several Fort Worth Bars Announce They Will Reopen on May 1, Despite Ban

The Basement Bar wants to be able to sell Corona without government restrictions.
The Basement Bar wants to be able to sell Corona without government restrictions. Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash
As protesters across different states demand that their respective governors put an end to imposed business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, some North Texas businesses are taking things a bit further than holding up “I want a haircut” signs.

One Fort Worth music venue, The Basement Bar, announced Tuesday night that it would be reopening its doors on May 1, despite the city’s ordinance that businesses remain closed.

“We have played the game long enough,” the bar posted on Facebook. “We abided by the rules set forth to help prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed and to ‘flatten the curve.’”

The post further explained that the venue had no intention of abiding with the city’s orders that non-essential businesses remain closed, citing “evidence” that the pandemic is the result of a convoluted hoax.

“As most of you already know, more and more evidence is brought to light everyday that most of this was all nonsense and grossly over exaggerated. We feel it is most important to stand up for our freedoms and get our employees back to work, it is our right.”

The post was taken down (presumably by Facebook after it was reported by users, or so it appears on the venue’s posted screenshots) and then reappeared on Wednesday, when it was also posted to Instagram.

Between all the posts, the venue has received thousands of comments, both praising the honky-tonk for its “passion and effort,” and criticizing it for being “disease vectors.” Big Brother cast member Elena Davies shared the venue's Instagram story by tagging Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Obviously public safety and employee safety is first and foremost, but we feel like there are a lot of questions going unanswered that we certainly would like to have answered (about coronavirus),” Fred Barnett, the spokesman for the Basement Bar, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The venue’s social media representatives, however, were less diplomatic and had more incendiary responses to the public backlash, making follow-up posts calling detractors “Karen’s” (sic) and “Carole Baskins.”

“We have a new drink called Fuk Zuckerburg for all you Karen’s out there! Wow we had no idea there were so many Carol Baskins in the world,” the Basement Bar posted on Wednesday. They also made the claim that they wouldn't be the only venue that would be opening at the beginning of next month.

“As most of you already know, more and more evidence is brought to light everyday that most of this was all nonsense and grossly over exaggerated.” – The Basement Bar via Facebook

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“May 1st all bars will be open. We just happened to advertise it first and between the supporters and the haters, it was the best PR move we ever made. Thank you for almost 300k views and comments!”

On Thursday, Barnett also told the Star-Telegram that several other bars in Fort Worth, including his clients Thirsty Armadillo, Stampede Saloon and Pearl's Dance Hall, also plan to reopen their doors May 1.

The Basement Bar also made the complaint that other businesses were able to keep their doors open.

“We shouldn’t be around more than 6-10 people, yet Home Depot and Walmart have that many people in one isle,” the post read, later continuing with: “Mom and Pop shops are being forced to close while McDonald’s has people lined up around the corner as the same cashier with the same gloves helps hundreds of people."

The bar believes that the ordinance violates constitutional rights.

"We say we are a free country. We pride ourselves on this fact alone... yet, no one is free. We send our brothers and sisters to war for what? They won’t take our guns! But they can limit our ammo. Nothing is free. There is a cost for everything, for shutting down the economy, for starting back up the economy. Lives will be lost either way both from the virus or from the aftermath of locking down the world."

The post ended with the hashtags #FreedomToChoose and #Trump2020

The medical community is updating information on the effects of COVID-19 seemingly daily. The highest comorbidity, a factor that contributes to a disease’s rate of fatality, according to a New York State Department of Health study, is hypertension, which affects close to 78 million Americans.

Some medical experts have raised the possibility that the coronavirus could have long-term effects on neurological and lung functions in those who survive the disease, while CNN reported that healthy patients in their 30s and 40s were experiencing severe and sudden strokes as a result of contracting the virus.

Yet, the Basement Bar isn’t the only place willing to take a risk. North Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther announced she is opening Salon À la Mode for business this Friday.

Luther says she can't afford to keep her place closed any longer, and that she's willing to risk fines and jail time as a result. Luther, however, has expressed plans through her own social media to take some precautions, like allowing one client in her salon at a time.

On Thursday, The Basement Bar tripled-down on their message with a new post explaining that they don't wish to "harm the public" but allow employees to feed their children.

Some commenters suggested that such a public announcement was a guerrilla marketing effort to advertise the bar and gain support for their to-go drink sales, while another person simply wanted to know whether the bar was offering discounts for Corona beer.  
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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio