AUSTIN, Texas -- On Friday, Gov. Gregg Abbott issued an executive order that forced Texas bars and tubing/rafting companies to close again, capped dine-in restaurant capacity to 50 percent, and limited large outdoor gatherings.
What You Need To Know
- Texas bars were shut down again due to spike in cases
- Tigress Pub owner has no income now
- She was able to get loan for business expenses
The move shocked Austin small business owner Pam Pritchard, who ten years ago took a leap of faith and decided to leave her career as a laboratory scientist to open up her own bar.
“After 22 years I'd already done everything in the field that I was interested in doing. And so I'm starting to think, ‘Well, what am I going to do for another 20 years?’" said Pritchard. “I was just focused on doing this and I didn’t take no for an answer and I pushed through a lot of barriers. But I got it and I’m so proud of myself for getting it.”
In 2010, she opened the doors of the Tigress Pub.
“I was just drawn to the social aspects of the bar, and how it can be such a center for people to communicate with neighbors, each other. It really is a gathering place," said Pritchard.
Tigress Pub (Niki Griswold/Spectrum News)
What she loves even more than mixing cocktails is seeing her bar play a role in people’s lives.
“I love that I've had so many things sent to me, explaining why this place is so special to them. I've had people take their engagement photos here, major birthdays here," said Pritchard.
Pritchard closed the bar in mid-March due to the spread of the coronavirus, and took her time before reopening so she could implement all the changes she wanted to keep her customers safe.
“The horror you go through in your head is that, 'What if somebody I love gets sick? What if one of us gets sick?' You know, we're in the people business. We love people. And to think that one of these people might get sick because of us. It's just horrible," said Pritchard.
The Tigress Pub re-opened on June 10 with many changes like social distancing measures and mask requirements, but just 17 days later, it closed again due to the shutdown order following days of record-breaking, soaring COVID-19 cases.
It was a crushing blow for Pam after all the time and care she took to make sure her operation was safe.
“I feel like any business that tries its hardest to keep people safe because they love their customers, the whole idea is to have repeat business. I mean you don't want to your customers to go away. You try really hard and then to have this happen, is kind of like, you know, 'That's a broad brush you just did, Governor Abbott, all bars.'”
Pritchard says she wishes smaller bars had been allowed to stay open with strict social distancing measures and reduced capacity limits, like restaurants.
Now, without an end date in sight of when she can reopen again, she’s feeling the financial impact of closing even more.
“I did manage to get a small business loan, which covers things for the bar, but it doesn't cover things for me. So, I still don't have an income," said Pritchard. "I have been figuring out different ways to take care of things, but yeah, I’m very much behind on my bills.”
Amid all the uncertainty, like all of us, she says she misses her community terribly.
“A lot of the regulars, we’re a very close group," said Pritchard. "I hope they know how much I love them. I love my clients, my customers so much.”
But most importantly, she wants everyone to take the pandemic, and everyone's health, seriously.
“Keep your distance, keep your mask on, wash your hands, it’s simple. And the tendency to want it to go back to how it was is so strong, but you got to resist that, because it’s not gonna go back," said Pritchard.