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Downtown bar owners concerned about safety, how to manage reopening

Posted at 8:11 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 21:11:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Business owners in downtown Nashville have mixed opinions on how to reopen safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some bar owners are concerned about how to reopen and protect the safety of their staff. Others wonder if the reopening will happen too early.

"I think most of the people that come down here on the weekends are college students that aren't here," said Tom Morales, owner of Acme Feed & Seed. "They're people entertaining out of town guests and there's conventions and there's none of those [right now]."

Morales said he plans to listen to doctors and scientists about when it's safe to reopen. He says he doesn't know how a 50% capacity open would work in the bars and worries for both his staff and customers.

"Our biggest fear is the people we don't control. The people who are our customers that come in here and see a mask and think that that's, like, stupid and they want to tell you it's stupid," he said.

Down the street at Tin Roof, owner Bob Franklin has staff and management cleaning and preparing the bar for an eventual open.

He believes it will happen within a month but is waiting for the city's word to move forward.

"Right now, they're getting it cleaned up. Putting in safety protocols, sanitizer stations, rearranging the floor plan so we can match the distance requirements and be ready," said Franklin.

Even though they're excited to reopen, Franklin said he wanted it to be safe for his customers. However, the longer the shutdown goes on, the more the business will suffer.

"Our rent didn't stop. Our mortgages didn't stop. Our utilities didn't stop. Our expectations to pay property taxes didn't stop. So, we've got about 2, 2 1/2 months backlog to pay, plus when we open to up with restrictions, we won't be able to cover those," he said.