On June 30, Kilgore bar owner Tee Allen made national news when she helped start a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for closing bars.
This week, she plans on filing a new lawsuit to help bars who can not afford to have a kitchen in their establishment to stay open.
On Saturday at the Machine Shed Bar and Grill, Allen invited the media to a press conference inside to explain the next steps. Allen said the bar would rather patrons not wear masks do they can be identified and checked for intoxication, but exceptions are made if someone wants to wear one.
“TABC has once again changed the rules. Why change the rules again? Initially, they said you could not catch corona if you served food at a bar from a commercial kitchen, you have to get a food and beverage license and you have to pay $776 because ‘kingless’ Abbott has not stopped the fees on people who are jobless?” said Allen, whose name in the lawsuit is Tonia Allen Parker, but she goes by Tee Allen and said she is the co-owner of Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore.
Allen talked about the original rule stating an establishment must have more than 51 percent of food sales to stay open, saying, “Because without eating a hotdog in a bar, you will catch corona so shut them down now.”
She said 6,600 bars in Texas had to close and many have reopened by paying a $200 kitchen license fee and a $576 surcharge, but she said you also have to have or build a commercial kitchen, show the state proof and a menu. After all of that, the $776 is not refundable.
“The state collected the revenues and said, ‘thank you.” Then they came running back and said ‘you need to close you are selling 52 percent alcohol.’ No sir, I am not closing. I am going to keep working,” said Allen. “I know some bars that literally built a kitchen, one in Longview spent $10,000 to build a kitchen. But what about the bars who got denied or could not open a kitchen? You need to be fair to everyone or close us all across the board and give us a relief package.”
Allen said the lawsuit is not about her bar, but the other bars that can not afford to open. She also said the state law allows for loopholes to try to serve a few dishes off a grill from home and she said that is not safe for patrons, the reason she said let all bars open or close all of them and give them a relief package.
She said next Sunday the bar will hold a Trump Rally at 1 p.m. and the main speaker will be, Texas Republican Party Chairman Col. Allen West along with others.
Len Swanson of Houston, who said he is the founder of the People’s Alliance Against Tyranny and Commander of the Veterans Militia, also talked to the press at the bar on Saturday.
Swanson said after the lawsuit is filed on Tuesday, another press conference will take place.
Swanson said using the “Freedom of Information act, we have gotten (papers) from the governor’s office that will show he has done executive overreach. Everything about Covid has been nothing but a social experiment to see how far Americans would be willing to relinquish their constitutional and civil rights.”
He also feels the governor has benefited financially from the pandemic, but stopped short of details.
“What they didn’t count on was Texans like myself saying .. ‘really? Are you kidding me?’ What part of (BS) is still (BS) at the end of the day. I guess (BS) isnt acceptable so it’s BS,” said Swanson, who added Abbott went against the Republican Party by not allowing an in-person Republican National Convention in Texas. “The only reason we didn’t have an in-person convention is Abbott is in charge of, Harris County, or the (former) party chairman, James Dickey, to do a virtual convention ... sabotage. Because it was based on us wanting an in-person convention only. We were denied that under state constitutional law.”
Swanson explained, “I’m 67, I have a proper education. When we went to school, we had history, we had civics. We were taught to be good citizens. Our school system has been taken over by socialists. They are sheep holes at the end of the day and bow down and follow their new masters because they say so. This is not a pandemic.”
Half of Swanson’s 12-minute press conference was hard to hear as a profane-laced song was played on the jukebox, which had been silent during the first part of his speech.
Odessa bar owner Jami Burleson came to Kilgore for support along with Johnny Rice, known as the Trumpeter for Trump. He blew a Biblical trumpet after leading a prayer at the press conference.
John Anderson is the regional editor of M. Roberts Media, including the Longview News-Journal and the Tyler Morning Telegraph.