Downtown bar reinvented as eatery amid COVID restrictions
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Felicia Frazar The Seguin Gazette
Since the state closed bars a second time during the coronavirus pandemic, 1916 Bar & Bistro’s doors have remained closed to customers.
But that all changed on Monday, just days before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state was increasing the capacity of restaurants to 75%.
Greg and Amy Woodall, owners of 1916 Bar & Bistro, applied several weeks ago to change their licensing through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from a 51% establishment — meaning a small majority of sales revenue comes from alcohol — to a restaurant. Recently, they received the nod from the TABC to reopen their business as a restaurant.
“We’re excited to be open,” Greg said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down bars, many establishments across the state applied to change their licensing to reopen their doors.
Prior to making the change and to keep his staff employed, Greg applied for a loan through the Payroll Protection Program while offering curbside service to customers.
“We did OK in the beginning, but it slowed down in the end,” he said. “If we hadn’t been able to pick up the PPP, I would have had to close up a long time ago. We’d reached that point where we have to do something. We weren’t sitting around but at the same time, we didn’t quite know what to do.”
The Woodalls had thought about opening a restaurant prior to the pandemic, but as things changed, so did their focus.
1916 Bar & Bistro is located inside the Aumont and offers a small selection of items. Over time, the menu will expand to include more entrees, Greg said.
“What we are doing now is working to build our menu up. We’re not going to just come in here and try and reinvent the wheel,” he said. “We took the food we had, we tweaked a few things and then what we are going to do is launch a new entree or two gradually and build this thing up over time. We want to make sure that we are doing it right.”
Greg chose to roll out a soft opening on a Monday night to help his staff get their feet on the ground.
The Aumont is also host to Court Street Coffee Shop, which is open in the morning and early afternoon.
The two business share some key personnel, Greg said.
“The staff that I have right now — Cat and Kevin both work for Court Street,” he said. “Cat is the manager there and she’s an outstanding bartender over here and Kevin has the kitchen on both ends. He’s got a complete understanding of what we want to do.”
Customers enter the restaurant on the bar side and can either sit in there, the lobby or on the patio, each offering plenty of spacing.
Guests who want to sit on the patio will have table service, and the patio bar will be staffed on Fridays and Saturdays.
The mezzanine can serve as a place for guests to wait for a table to open and enjoy a beverage, Greg said.
The Rose Room is the last resort for seating, as Greg plans to keep the spot open for Court Street Coffee Shop.
“We’d kind of like to keep that open for Heather Felty, who likes to have music and things like that,” he said. “Ultimately on Friday’s and Saturday’s, if she has music then both of us will be open and people will have a choice. They can have a drink, they can have coffee, they can have whatever suits them.”
1916 Bar & Bistro is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.
Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Downtown, news, Small Business