North Alabama bars still adjusting to alcohol sales restrictions

Area bars, still reeling from shutdowns, are still figuring out how to handle the state's 11 p.m. alcohol sales cutoff.

Posted: Aug 30, 2020 11:28 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2020 7:35 AM

Some area bars say things have been difficult for them since the start of the pandemic and they’ve only gotten more difficult in August.

On the first of the month, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board banned the sale of alcohol at restaurants and bars after 11 p.m.

A man has a drink at Huntsville's Lone Goose Saloon on Sunday.

Mike Groce, the manager of Huntsville’s Lone Goose Saloon, told me that the recent rule made a difficult situation even tougher, but said they’re trying to figure things out to stay afloat.

“This is just a situation that, regardless of how much experience you have in this, nobody’s prepared for this,” Groce said. “This is just something that none of us have ever seen.”

When bars were able to reopen after the initial shutdown, Groce said things were starting to pick up at the saloon. But at the start of August, the new Alabama ABC rule was a bit of a gut punch to the bar.

“Those two and a half hours on Friday and Saturday night is the bulk of our business, so that’s been a pretty drastic change. It’s something we’re all dealing with on a week to week basis,” he said.

Groce told me he doesn’t understand why they set a cutoff instead of just shutting down the restaurants and bars, but added that he is very glad they didn’t have to close again.

“I don’t think we’ve suffered as much as some people have, but at the same time we’ve definitely taken some licks on this.”

Immediately after the ban went into place, Groce said the bar had to start playing defense, working to figure out where they could save money.

The first thing to go was the live entertainment they offer each weekend. Now, in an effort to try to get more people into the bar before the cut off, Groce told me they’re planning to have some acts this weekend in a new, earlier time slot.

“You know, everything’s a guessing game and you try something here and there, it works, it doesn’t work -- so you just kind of go from there and learn, but you know, the bottom line is we have to look out for our bottom line.”

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