Owner of Topeka’s oldest bar concerned new restrictions will force closure
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The owner of Topeka’s oldest bar says the newest restrictions issued by the Shawnee Co. Health Department could be the final nail in the coffin for his business.
Emil Spaeth, owner of the Brass Rail, says they make most of their money after 10:00 p.m. Under the latest order issued by the health department, that’s the time they’ll have to close their doors.
“I don’t even know what to do,” Spaeth said. “My customers get off work and they come here.”
With COVID-19 cases linked to bars on the rise, all bars can only stay open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., then 5:00 to 10:00 p.m starting Thursday.
“We open at 6:00 a.m.,” Spaeth said. “Our third-shifters aren’t even going to be able to come in the door.”
Spaeth says that once the bar’s doors close at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, he’s keeping them closed indefinitely.
”What am I going to do? I have no other choice. I’m closing my bar,” he said.
The Brass Rail isn’t the only spot worried about the reduced hours.
Jerrad Davis, owner of KnJ’s Sports Bar says he’s lost the majority of his savings since the pandemic began.
“I would say I probably make sixty percent of my money between 10 and midnight,” Davis said. “On the weekends I make the majority of my money between 10 and 2:00 a.m..”
Under the new order, bars must close their dance floors and limit to 50-percent capacity.
Also, both bars and restaurants must once again stop counter or bar service. All food and drinks must be consumed at a seated table.
Spaeth hoped to add food service to boost revenue, but that process hit a standstill when the pandemic began.
“If I don’t get my kitchen, I’m closing,” he said. “My building will be for sale. I don’t have a choice.”
Davis, too, is worried KnJ’s won’t survive the shutdowns.
“This is all I got,” he said.
KnJ’s will stay open under the restricted hours for the time being.
The Brass Rail will close indefinitely, but Spaeth says he’s hopeful they’ll eventually reopen.
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