‘Save our bars’: Bar owners, employees across NC protest to reopen bars

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Bar owners and employees from across the state made their way to Raleigh on Thursday to protest Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to keep bars closed.

Under 2.5 of the state’s reopening plan, which begins on Friday, bars will have to remain closed. However, restaurants, breweries, wineries and other establishments with certain permits have been allowed to reopen and serve alcohol.

“The bottom line is, it doesn’t make sense that a restaurant bar can be open, but a bar can’t. It doesn’t really make any sense,” said Joseph Dewberry, who owns a bar in Fayetteville.

Ben Reese is part of the group that protested outside the Executive Mansion. He tells CBS 17 he poured his dreams and deployment savings into opening the Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar in Asheville more than seven years ago.

“All the money I saved up fighting for America went into that,” Reese said of the money he put into opening the bar. “My house is also up for collateral because banks don’t give money to bars.”

With his bar still closed under the governor’s orders, his dreams and finances have dried up.

“If this business fails, I’m homeless,” he said of how dire the situation is. “So if that’s the ‘people’s house,’ maybe I can move in, maybe Governor Cooper will let me come in.”

People at the protest say they want a fair chance to survive the pandemic, and that they are capable of following the same safety standards as restaurants, breweries, and wineries.

“We still aren’t open and everybody else is for the most part,” said Michaels Laria, who owns Jeff’s Bucket Shop in Charlotte. “So why does almost all of the responsibility fall onto our shoulders to save North Carolina?”

The group plans on protesting again next Thursday.

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