Music venues have not been spared by the recent curfews enacted around North Texas in response to recent protests against police brutality. Finally beginning to recover from the COVID-19 closures, the curfews are a second financial blow.
Opening Bell Coffee Shop sits right across the street from Dallas police headquarters in the Cedars. The shop is a hub for local singer-songwriters and national acts passing through North Texas. When the pandemic broke out, Opening Bell began hosting concerts, songwriter rounds and their long-running open mic nights online.
Pascale Hall, the owner of the shop, says last Tuesday they were supposed to have their first in-person open mic since restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"We had to cancel our open mic Tuesday, sadly the first one since COVID, but also we wanted to pause the music in support of Black Lives Matter," Hall said in an email. "We just started extended hours until 7 p.m., and now we have canceled events and are closing again at 5 p.m. daily until further notice."
The curfew in central Dallas lasts from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and was first enforced on May 31. While Opening Bell can still operate during the day, some local watering holes are not so lucky.
In response to the curfew, Deep Ellum restaurant Brick & Bones said in a post on Facebook that it will be closed until further notice.
“We wish we could stay open for our customers, but the majority of our business occurs in the evening and if we can't be open for dinner unfortunately it doesn't make financial sense for us to be open at all,” the post read. “We hope everyone stays safe and looking forward to serving you again soon.”
Denton's Mayor Chris Watts implemented a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on June 1. Before then, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios was set to host a drive-in movie event showing True Stories, the cult classic film directed by David Byrne and filmed in North Texas.
On May 31, the venue announced on its Facebook page that it would be postponing the event to June 12 because of the curfew.
On the same day, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price declared a state of emergency as well as an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in response to the recent protests.
The Rail Club Live! in Fort Worth was just beginning to host live concerts again.
“First and foremost our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the recent current events,” Chris Polone, one of the owners of the venue, wrote in a Facebook post. “We have been dealt a devastating blow as a direct result to COVID-19 and of course as things begin to reopen another atrocity has impacted our ability to operate.”
Polone said the venue would be closed while the curfew is in place because their operating costs are too high to open only during the day. He also said the curfew just adds insult to injury after several months of being closed because of the coronavirus.
“We have made up some serious ground over the last couple of weeks so trust me when I say this hurts — bad,” Polone said.
The Rail Club Live! owner encouraged fans of the venue to donate to their GoFundMe page to help ease the financial blow of COVID-19 and the recent curfew in Fort Worth. He said he is determined to make it to the other side of all of this.
After recovering from a 2018 dispute with his business partner, which ended in a lawsuit and the Fort Worth venue being shut down, and the financial woes of COVID-19, Polone said he is confident the venue can bounce back.
“My staff and myself have and will continue to work our asses off to protect our home and I want to assure everyone that I will not allow our home to be a casualty because of all the craziness in 2020," Polone said.
He said, “Now with the curfew Fort Worth has enacted, I can safely say, after going through so much hell, that we will survive this. We will continue to prove that we are unkillable and the reason why is because of you and your non-stop support.”
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