Local bar reopens under social distancing guidelines
By Wesley Gardner
Ronda Reagan — owner of The PEARL, a small bar located in the square in Lockhart — spent most of the last several months at her house while states throughout the nation issued stay-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Now that bars are officially allowed to operate again, she’s been happy to be able to see a lot of her old customers.
“It’s been a good feeling to visit again with people,” said Reagan. “I’d use the word socialize, but it’s six feet apart with masks on.
“At least you’re seeing them. That, I’ve missed the most – social contact. I’m seeing most of the regulars coming back here and there.”
Reagan said business was a little slow when the bar was first allowed to reopen two weeks ago, but noted it’s been picking up lately.
“The first night we did about a third of our normal Friday night business,” said Reagan. “We’ve done up to 50 percent of it. Considering we’re only at 25 percent capacity, that’s not bad.”
Per Gov. Greg Abbott’s order, bars are currently only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity and must adhere to social distancing measures.
“The first weekend, people honored us a lot with our social distancing,” said Reagan. “The next weekend, some of [the customers] didn’t want to honor our rules.
“I had to be stern at the door and be the door man and tell them wait outside, but everybody’s been respectful. I’m proud of our citizens and the way they’re acting.”
Reagan said that while social distancing measures have slightly changed the bar experience, the essence of what her business provides is still there.
“The nature of a bar is it’s a place for socializing,” said Reagan. “Singles sitting six feet apart on a bar stool can still talk to each other, because the room’s not that loud.
“I don’t have bands there or live music, so they can talk and have a conversation. The bar’s small enough to where if you’ve got three people on the barstools and the bartender you can get a good conversation going.”
Reagan said there have sometimes been instances in which safety measures have proven humorous.
“I’ve had customers come in with masks on and sit there with a longneck bottle of beer in front of them,” she said. “I had to laugh.”
Still, Reagan said the safety requirements were valid in order to best serve her customers and keep everyone at the bar safe.
“I’m going to obey the laws and take precautions for my own health and the safety of my employees and my customers,” she said. “I want it to be done right.”
Even with safety and social distancing requirements, Reagan said it’s been nice to be able to open up the bar to her old clientele.
“I’ll be glad to see when we get to open up one day at 50 percent capacity,” said Reagan. “Every little bit will help, but we’re satisfied with what we’ve got.”