‘It wasn’t fair’: Tallahassee bar owner throws in the towel after state mandated shutdowns

clydes and costellos
"My daughter met her husband here."

A Tallahassee bar owner handed his keys off to new ownership Thursday after the weight of the state mandated shutdowns became too much to bear.

Dave Ericks poured 34 years of his life into Clyde’s and Costello’s and intended to do so for the foreseeable future. But as state leaders scrambled to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Ericks soon realized his businesses would likely become a victim of the state’s crossfire.

“I’ve been out for four months and I’ve been paying $20,000 monthly into my mortgage and Comcast and computers and everything else,” Ericks, a veteran state lobbyist said.

The local watering hole was a staple within the community. Located steps away from the Florida Capitol Building and Florida State University, it thrived as a favorite among the young and old alike.

“I can’t tell you over my 34 years how many people met their wives or their spouses,” he recounted. “My daughter met her husband here.”

Clyde’s and Costello’s is just one of the thousands of bars struggling to stay afloat under the state’s shutdown order.

On March 20, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered bars and nightclubs to stop serving alcohol for on-site consumption as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19. That order was lifted, allowing for limited capacity in most of Florida on June 5, but Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears later reinstated the ban on June 26 citing an inability to properly enforce restrictions.

Dave Ericks, right, alongside his son.

Ericks respects the state’s effort to manage the pandemic. He takes issue, however, with the emergency order’s exception for restaurants to serve alcohol. In his eyes, he sees little difference.

“Restaurants under the law are not allowed to do drinks to-go,” he said. “They’re not allowed to do bottles to-go. But they’ve made an exception for them to do what we do.”

Moreover, Ericks cited the countless videos and pictures that show overcrowded restaurants across the state. He also pointed to the recent protests.

“There’s a lot of other problems but to pick out one segment is wrong,” Ericks reasoned. “I say that on behalf of everybody who owns a bar. It wasn’t fair, you know? It’s not fair.”

Last week, Florida’s largest brewery association warned state leaders that more than 100 breweries will likely close soon if they remain limited to a to-go only business model.

In a letter sent to DeSantis and Beshears, the Florida Brewers Guild begged for relief on behalf of the state’s more than 320 breweries.

“We need your help,” they wrote. “The entire Florida Craft Brewing Industry is now in jeopardy.”

Beshears, days later, announced he would begin meeting with breweries and bars throughout the state to discuss possible ways to reopen.

Ericks acknowledged that a chat with state leaders can not come soon enough for many Florida bars.

“All my business had gone to restaurants,” he lamented. “Again, it is not about me. It’s about every bar in the state that has not been allowed to open and all your business has gone somewhere else.”

Ericks added that he plans to hang a thank you sign onto the businesses’ door on Thursday morning, thanking customers and staff for 34 years of memories.

“We had a great run,” the sign reads. “But now it’s time to run! Thank you again for all the good times!”

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • S.B. Anthony

    July 30, 2020 at 8:11 am

    “It’s not fair,”. That sounds a lot like the whiner-in-chief. But, Ivanka says you can “Try Something New,”. So, give her a call and go for it.

    • Ivanka

      July 30, 2020 at 8:29 am

      I’m sorry your old business is ruined, but now is the time to get excited and TRY SOMETHING NEW! Do you have a rich daddy? OMG I do, and I’ve been able to try so many new things! For instance, your old bar was dusty and damp. Maybe try selling flavored waters through a multilevel marketing model with Daddy’s name? Ohhh. I like that. Maybe don’t. Trump waters. YUM!

      • S.H.A.W.

        July 31, 2020 at 5:35 pm

        $20,000 a month on a mortgage for a property the article implies the owner has owned for *34 years*. I didn’t realize there was cunch of downtown Manhattan in Tallahassee.

  • Sonja Fitch

    July 30, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Because duffus Desantis is ass backwards or totally clueless the trumpvirus has kicked our asses here in Florida. Stop ! Shut down the state!Duffus Desantis is doing the death walk for Florida! Shut down the state!

  • Sgk

    July 31, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Hopefully the new owner will clean up the place. Smells like a urinal as soon as you walk in the door

  • Joseph Peeler

    August 1, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Well, you get what you paid for. You wanted DeSantis, now you have him. I find the owner’s estimate of losses rather suspect for having been in business 34 yrs. but remember he’as a lobbyist, tho’

  • Tim Gomez

    August 6, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks Dave, Mike, Mike, Candice, and everyone. You gave me a job when I needed one, and the place where I met my wife.

  • melly

    August 7, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    I’ve never seen such obnoxious comments in all my life. people are losing their businesses and you heartless, disgusting people blame the victims. Obnoxious! They’ve based these closures an the TYPE OF LIQUOR LICENSE THEY CARRY. WTF is WRONG with some of you? This is a GOP administration sticking it to business. Since when did that become a thing? These people are breaking the backs of mom and pop small businesses and paving the way for fire sales and more corporate ownership
    Wake up, it could be YOUR JOB NEXT.

Comments are closed.


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