Bars hold silent protest; push for 100 percent capacity

Several bar owners on Guam staged a silent protest, putting their bar stools out in front of their establishments to portray their lack of business. (PNC file photo)

Several bar owners on Guam staged a silent protest yesterday, putting their bar stools out in front of their establishments to portray their lack of business.

Bars and taverns will be allowed to reopen as of 8 a.m. Friday but owners are cautiously optimistic and still hoping for 100 percent capacity soon.

Live House and many other staples Of Guam’s nightlife will be allowed to re-open come Friday morning but only at a 25 percent capacity.

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Thomas Peinhopf, owner of Live House and The Shady Lady, said: “It will mean around 20 people at Live House the larger bar and about 10 people for The Shady Lady”

And while he says it’s a good start, Peinhopf says their bills are coming in 100 percent, and not 25 percent.

“Bills are very very high. Tumon rent, depending on the size of the business and your exact location, can go up to $5000 a month. So now we are in month four of the crisis, so you do the math. Plus, the other expenses of power, common-area fees, Internet to run your security cameras,” Peinhopf said.

Peinhopf says they had been thinking about selling and the COVID shutdowns solidified their decision to list the bars.

“My background is hospitality and that’s our passion, that’s what we love to do. And, if it’s not being appreciated, if it’s not being valued in any way, if someone can decide over your income and actually close you for 90 days … it really makes you think and maybe want to go back to a steady paycheck or maybe a more ‘essential’ job,” Peinhopf said.

Peinhopf says they’ll consider not selling, depending on how the economy picks up for bars when they reopen.

He says bar owners have been on an emotional rollercoaster.

“There are those times that we are frustrated for sure, and I know that many are very, very desperate. You know we’ve exchanged phone calls with some and they’re in tears and we provide comfort and talk to them about if they’ve applied for programs for financial help. And we help them,” Peinhopf said.

He says refunded business license fees could be a start for GovGuam to help suffering businesses.

“We’ve been closed down for a quarter…please refund the money. You didn’t let us operate and now you’re charging us…taxation is for sure one of the things that could possibly jump-start the economy quicker,” Peinhopf said.

He added: “Waiting for airplanes to arrive on Guam…Korean airplanes, Japanese airplanes, Manila airplanes…it’s not an option and it’s not a proper economic plan. All of our bartenders, and bouncers, and vendors, and bands, they’re excited – they want to come back. You know, we’ve been trusted to run a business. So, you need to trust us to do it right.”

And now, Peinhopf says they’re excited to swing open their doors Friday. Much like restaurants, patrons will be required to wear masks upon entry and take them off to have their drink and social distancing will be enforced.