‘I have no money’: For bars that remain closed, a dire outlook

CHARLOTTE — The music is off. The beer sits cold and untouched and the lights rarely get turned on nowadays at El Centenario Night Club near University City. Owner Kevin Galyan does not see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“My water bill is due. My power bill is due. It is almost like every particular bill I have at this time is due, and I have no money to pay them – none whatsoever,” Galyan said.

Galyan’s nightclub hasn’t been able to legally open since March because of Gov. Roy Cooper’s “Safer at Home” executive order.

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Dozens of people are out of jobs and Galyan said he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I’ve applied for some of the loans offered, but I have not heard a response back,” he said. “Not a penny.”

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Places such as El Centenario will be closed until at least Oct. 2. During his news conference on Tuesday, Cooper said people need to keep wearing their masks and social distancing so that more businesses can reopen.

“We know businesses are still closed and are still hurting,” Cooper said. “The more we can do to slow the spread of this virus, the faster we can turn this dimmer switch on and let everything open.”

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In an act of desperation, Galyan reopened his club in July for a few weeks despite the executive order. He closed shop after CMPD cited him. In those few weeks, he was able to generate enough cash to make it to this point.

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The ABC Commission sent a letter warning his alcohol permits may be in jeopardy if he tries to reopen again. He said he might have to risk it.

“It is coming down to the point where you either take that chance or you let them turn the power off, the water off, and you just lose,” Galyan said. “You just fold up like some other people did.”

He and hundreds of other bar owners and supporters plan to protest in Raleigh on Thursday. Galyan not only hopes for change -- he needs it to happen.

“Absolutely not,” Galyan said when asked if he will be able to make it to Oct. 2. “With me sitting here with the final notice on all of my bills, I don’t even know how to answer that.”

Galyan said his anxiety and blood pressure are at an all-time high and that the situation has turned him into a different person.

“Who can live without a paycheck for seven months? I don’t know of many people,” he said.