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Polk County Brewery and Bar Owners Reopen With Hopes to Stay Open

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds’ decision to lift closures of bars, breweries, wineries and nightclubs Wednesday at 5:00 pm in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk counties gave new meaning to the saying it’s five o’clock somewhere. “People are excited and happy about it to start to get back to a little more normal,” said Ryan Rost owner of 515 Brewing Company in Clive.

Since August 27th, establishments like 515 Brewing Company were relegated to curbside pick up which brought in a small fraction of their usual sales. “We didn’t feel it was necessarily fair for our circumstances because we were only on the patio and we were doing the right thing, so maybe a little collateral damage,” Rost said.

Despite stringent rules, mask wearing and sanitary measures many Iowa breweries bars and nightclubs including Blazing Saddle in Des Moines’ east village and owner Robert “mongo” Eikleberry felt lumped in with establishments that took guidelines less serious. “Number one we I.D. Number two if you dont have a mask we will sell you a mask. Number three, we sterilize like you will not believe. I even have a UV light that I run at night,” Eikleberry said.

Blazing Saddle serves as a welcoming home for many in the LGBTQ community and re-opening is highly anticipated. They are just chomping at the bit to get here,” said Eikleberry.

After the Governor’s intial shutdowns in the spring multiple closures have been more than just bad for business, Mongo says it was bad for an often under recognized community. “They have lost their home.”

In the Spring 515 Brewing received a small business relief grant for $20,000 to help pay employees during the first round of shutdowns for bars restaurants and breweries. Now reopening after a second closure, Ryan says another round could be trouble for businesses like his. “It’s certainly in the back of our minds of a definite possibility. If that rolls around we hope there is another financial aid package that can help out,” said Rost.

Each business may believe the customer is always right, but during the pandemic they are also relying on the customer to act responsibly to win the fight against Covid. Eikleberry said, “It could kill a lot of small owned businesses. We just can’t afford to do that. If we would just comply with some basic common sense.”

Similar establishments in Johnson and Story counties remain closed until September 20th. Restaurants there cannot serve alcohol passed 10pm.

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