Alchemy owner says he won’t comply with order for bars to close

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UPDATE: On Thursday, Alchemy owner Nick Scott said he would comply with orders to close his bar after previously saying he would defy the order the close.

He said the Tennessee ABC came to Alchemy and threatened to take their liquor license away and fine them $1,500 if they don’t close. They also said that the county health department would shut the business down if they didn’t close.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With COVID-19 cases going up, Shelby County health officials are shutting down bars, but Nick Scott said he won’t close his doors.

Scott runs Alchemy in Cooper-Young.

“We are not just a bar; we are a full-service restaurant,” Scott said.

The county puts businesses like Scott’s in the same category as bars because 50% or more of Alchemy’s sales comes from alcohol.

Scott said that number is misleading because many of his drinks are made with expensive liquor.

“With premium ingredients in the cocktail, that’s going to drive the price up, so if we’re looking at the cash value of everything, then yes, we’re looking at 50% more sales. Now, item to item, not necessarily,” Scott said. “You can buy an $11 or $12 cocktail, and you can get two small plates, two appetizers for that.”

Scott’s business took a serious financial hit when bars and restaurants were previously forced to close. He doesn’t want to go through that again.

“If we do another industry-wide shutdown for restaurants, I will comply to that, but I’m not going to comply to this,” Scott said.

Curbside pickup is still allowed, and that’s something Kate Ashby decided to switch to before the new order was issued.

“Why not just bite the bullet and get ahead of it?” she said.

Ashby runs Knifebird Wine Bar in Cooper-Young and feels it’s just too irresponsible to open the dining room.

“I mean, it’s a different ball game right? But we’re pivoting,” Ashby said. “We’re trying to attack the cheese and charcuterie board market, and no one else is doing that, so it’s at least business, and it’s actually opening us up to new customers.”

The infection rate will determine how long this order remains in effect.

Under the new directive, restaurants have to keep the names and numbers of every customer who comes in, and restaurants will have to keep those records for 30 days. Health officials say that will help with contact tracing.

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