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Local bars decide whether or not to make changes during the pandemic

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:31 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Plans are in motion for reopening bars and breweries in Florida.

Last week Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears tweeted about his intent to set up meetings throughout the state to discuss such reopening plans.

DBPR officials confirm Secretary Beshears met with local bar and brewery owners in Jacksonville Friday, and he will make similar stops in Tallahassee and Pensacola this weekend.

Panama City’s Taproom owner Matt Cole plans on attending Saturday’s meeting.

“I feel that we can safely be open outside as safe as any restaurant that’s open already in town,” Cole said.

Cole said Taproom was only open for three weeks in June, and even though he’s closed now, he doesn’t see the point in getting a food license.

“I’m sure as soon as I put time and effort and money into opening or changing Taproom into a restaurant, which is essentially what would happen, they would change the rules again and we’d probably be right back where we were,” Cole said.

Over the bridge in Panama City Beach, dinner is served at Ms. Newby’s Liquors.

The bar just recently received its food license.

“It’s hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, chicken salad. We’re just trying to do what we can do,” Ms. Newby’s Liquors Director of Operations Lindsey Pickenpaugh said.

She said the bar doesn’t actually have to have a traditional kitchen, just a food prep area.

Customers must sit while ordering their drink and then move to a designated area to sit down for the remainder of their stay.

Smoking is no longer allowed inside the bar, and for those playing pool or darts, you can only stand while actively playing the game.

Pickenpaugh said it may not be the old Ms. Newby’s you know.

“It’s a new Ms. Newbys but we’re just happy we’re able to put our bartenders back to work, put our security guards back to work, our musicians, our DJs; and so they can start providing for their families again,” Pickenpaugh said.

Pickenpaugh plans on meeting with Secretary Beshears Sunday.

“Our goal with our meeting is just to show him because we have been open for a week, that food license or no food license a bar can do the proper thing,” Pickenpaugh said.

Management is also working on getting food licenses for Newby’s Too and Newby’s Brew and Booze.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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