SAN ANGELO, Texas — Fernando Fuentez owns the Chadbourne Tavern in downtown San Angelo and has been in the bar management industry for quite some time.
“I’ve always run a bar. I ran a smaller sports bar 11 years prior to this, and I'm coming up on four years with the Tavern. I’m trying to hit my 20-year mark with the business," he said.
However, no amount of experience could have prepared him for the year 2020, when, in March, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars in the state to shut down in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"You know, the first time we went down, I didn't think it was going to be long. I was like, 'okay, a little vacation...' I don't think anybody knew what we were coming into," he said.
From March to October - with just a brief opening in June - bars like the Chadbourne Tavern have been closed and owners like Fuentez have been waiting for an announcement from Gov. Abbott, which finally came on Oct. 7, giving bars permission to open their doors back up at 50% capacity.
“I feel scared, but it's a good scared. It’s the scared that gives you motivation. You get knocked down, you want to get back up and we want to get past where we’ve been. We do have to follow the rules, there’s a lot of rules: masks, sanitizing, social distancing. Everybody needs to pull together to get out and hopefully get back to normal, whatever normal is," he said.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Fuentez will finish unstacking the chairs in his bar, dust off the counters, and finally, turn his disco lights and open sign back on - a day that he has been waiting for for what feels like forever.