AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two longtime East 6th Street bars are closing for good — joining a slew of Austin businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub and Dirty Dog Bar have both shuttered, with both bars deciding not to renew expiring leases.
“We held on as long as we could, even after losing revenue from March through today and with no end in sight,” Dirty Dog Bar wrote in a Facebook announcement.
B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub announced its closure Wednesday, saying it will focus staff and its efforts into its remaining location in the Mueller neighborhood.
The spring was a particularly hard time for Austin-area bars, with the cancellation of international attraction South By Southwest — in addition to other various entertainment events.
Statewide and local efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus included the March closure of Austin and Travis County bars, a harsh blow to Austin’s nightlife industry.
Bars were then allowed to reopen in May, under the second phase Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan. But the reopening lasted only about a month, with Gov. Abbott announcing on Friday June 26 that bars would close that day at noon after a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Gov. Abbott said in June.
Recently, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission expanded rules on bars, which allowed many the possibility to open as restaurants.
Throughout the closures, however, bar owners have claimed hypocrisy — and taken to protests — in the statewide orders, arguing that it’s unfair that restaurants have been able to remain open while bars have not.
A survey last month commissioned by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce found that 55% of restaurant/bars say they can endure for the next four months or less under current conditions.
For B.D. Riley’s, the 6th Street location closure marks the end of a 20-year era. The business wrote a thanks to the public on Facebook, saying: “… we have hosted 8 weddings, 4 wakes, more than 8,000 live music performances, and hopefully, brought a bit of joy and created fond memories for the many friends and guests who have joined the fun.”
Dirty Dog Bar, meanwhile, hopes to reopen somewhere else, once rules allow.
“Signing a new lease right now at a rate that won’t allow us to be profitable is just not an option that makes sense,” Dirty Dog Bar said in its announcement. “We have been searching for a new location for some time and hope that when the bar ban and COVID restrictions have eased up we will open a new location.”