Ybor bar owners warn customers to ‘play by the rules or they’ll shut us down’ amid reopening

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The countdown to “bottoms-up” is finally over in Florida.

Bars are back in business, and nightlife hot spots like Ybor City are thrilled.

Just ask J. Paul Pepin, the owner of Zydeco Brew Werks.

“It’s so important now. You’ve got to play by the rules. Do what you’re asked. Keep people safe and you can stay in business,” Pepin said.

This longtime Tampa businessman is very excited to see Ybor City come back to life amid the COVID-19 crisis after three months of being on pause during the pandemic.

The decision to re-open bars was announced by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears last Thursday, and now, bars are officially back in business in the Sunshine State, bringing with it a forecast for better business, bigger profits, and a return to nightlife.

“It’s getting back to what the normal used to be. That’s what we want,” said patron Larry Miller.

But, Pepin has a message he’s hoping everyone will hear – take it slow.

“If you’re going to try to make six months of lost revenue up in a month, it ain’t gonna happen. You’re going to get us all shut down again. So, we’ve gotta play by the rules,” Pepin told News Channel 8.

Those rules are simple.

Starting Monday, vendors can operate at 50 percent of the indoor capacity for the facility, allowing people to sit at the bar. At the same time, the rules permit outdoor seating and service with social distancing.

“We want to be normal again,” said Miller. “We just want to return to normal.”

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