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Bar Owners Rally for Reopening at State Capitol

August 7th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Bar owners are becoming increasingly distraught due to their ongoing state mandated closure.

Dozens of owners took to the Capitol Friday to make their voices heard.

Among the protestors was James Cuneo, who owns Howlin Wolf Bar in Putnam County.

“We’re getting to the point now where we’re financially paying for our staff out of our own pocket and all. But we’ve lost 50 to 75 percent of income, still have to pay the bills, still have to pay our liquor license that’s due in September,” said Cuneo.

Judi Yaeger drove two and a half hours from Williston to represent her bar, the Junction Tavern.

“I’ve owned the bar for 21 years and I don’t want to go down without a fight,” said Yaeger.

Owners told us this second round of closures have brought them to their breaking point.

“Many of us are not going to survive this and we’re not different. We’re no different than other people whose businesses are open and we deserve that right,” said Yaeger.

The owners also pointed out that even with bars closed, case numbers haven’t gotten better and remain high.

That’s one of the main contentions in a lawsuit many of the owners have signed onto.

“The DBPR is taking a position on this entire issue that seems to be one of creating the best public image instead of creating the safest public policy,” said Jacob Weil, the attorney representing bars in the case.

The lawsuit filed by the bar owners at today’s rally has received one hearing so far.

It was filed in Volusia County, but the state has asked for it to be transferred to the capital.

But if the closures go on for much longer the cost could be thousands of small businesses closing their doors forever.

“And these are small mom and pop businesses that spent their entire life savings working hard to build these businesses,” said Weil.

Despite the lawsuits, DBPR has given little to no indication of when it will allow bars to reopen.

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