Charlotte County bar owners worry as closing up shop becomes more likely

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:

Wendy Shirland’s concerns at her Port Charlotte bar go beyond billiards and beer.

“We’re trying to keep afloat. The bills are coming in, but I don’t have any money coming in at this point,” she said.

Racks Pub and Billiards closed March 17, empty for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day.

“We are looking at a couple more weeks,” Shirland said, “and then I gotta close up.”

“It’s getting to the point where if I don’t open soon, I may not open at all,” said Russ Bellerose. He said his pub, Bar 17, is about three weeks away from that point.

“The bar needs some sort of revenue to stay alive,” he said. “I’m struggling here.”

In between cleaning and recleaning, they refuse to stay quiet.

“I have reached out to the governor several times. I am unable to get through,” Shirland said.

“Signing petitions, trying to get the word out to the governor,” Bellerose said.

“I want them to tell me when we will be open,” Shirland said, as they try to get their work families back behind the bar and keep their businesses afloat before the pandemic infects their years of hard work.

“This is everything. My family is everything, this is everything,” Shirland said.

Florida’s reopening plan suggests bars and nightclubs can operate at 50 percent during phase two, but it’s up to Gov. Ron DeSantis to decide when that will be.

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