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'It's not a victory' | Triad bar owners prepare to reopen with outdoor seating only

Bar owners said it's not the reopening they hoped for after months of waiting.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Phase Three of the state's reopening plan is just days away after months of waiting.

Places like bars will be allowed to open starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

Some owners are relieved to have a chance to reopen but others aren't sure the restrictions will let them make up for months of lost revenue.

"I think it's a slap in the face to be blatantly honest," Seth Mapes said, "Why can restaurants have their bars open inside and we can't?"

Mapes owns The Bearded Goat, a bar in downtown Greensboro.

Hours before Governor Cooper's announcement, he started preparing for a possible Friday reopening on Wednesday.

Mapes expected low capacity limits but was surprised to learn he will not be able to use his indoor seating under Phase 3. 

His is one of the lucky bars that has a patio space but now he's rethinking his plans.

"I'm almost positive we would be ok to meet the criteria of close to 100 people if we could extend our patio. If we can't, then that's a different story," Mapes said.

Blake Stewart owns Fair Witness Cocktail Bar in Winston-Salem. He has plenty of outdoor seating and calls the Governor's plan a good start.

"I just lament that there are some other spaces where that may not be able to be the case. For us, that leaves 21 people for us to provide for," Stewart said.

Chemistry Nightclub in Greensboro also has patio space but owner Drew Wofford said these restrictions are still too heavy to reopen for bar service.

Wofford said he's been opening his indoor seating as a restaurant under 50 percent capacity with Guilford County guidance.

Under Phase 3, bars can reopen outdoor seating at 30 percent or 100 guests--whichever is lower.

"It's not a victory for bars and it's not sustainable," Wofford said.

His property doesn't have a defined outdoor occupancy which according to the Governor's Executive Order means he might have to limit guests to seven people per 1,000 square feet outside.

Bars also say the decision's timing could cause issues because it comes as we are starting to see colder temperatures.

"I don't think a customer is gonna want to sip on a beer outside in the snow when they can go to a winery or a brewery and have that same beer inside where it's warm," Wofford said.

"We have infrared heaters and we have fire tables so for us, an autumnal cocktail out on the patio is actually a really pleasant experience," Stewart said.

Mapes said he is hopeful he will be able to reopen The Bearded Goat on Friday. Stewart said Fair Witness may reopen later.

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