Westport bar owner sells unopened alcohol in hopes of offering workers interest-free loans

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A bar owner in Westport is planning to offer his employees interest-free loans by selling off his unopened inventory of alcohol.

The owner of Johnny Kaw’s Yard Bar, Brett Allred estimates he had about $40,000 worth of alcohol stocked up ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

However, before any of it could be opened, bars and taverns in Kansas City were ordered to shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Businesses rely on sales in to put money out, and with no money coming in, we’re just trying to figure out anyway we can take care of our people,” said Dustin Holland, general manager of the bar.

Holland said they brainstormed with Regulated Industries and their legal team and came up with a way to get their employees some cash.

On Wednesday, Yard Bar held a yard sale. The bar is selling of its sealed alcohol and plans to use the money collected to offer zero-interest loans to his workers.

“When people need money, we’re going have it on-hand now with these sales to loan them out,” Holland explained.

Managers at the bar reminded those who showed up to buy alcohol about social distancing.

They handed out clipboards with a list of their inventory, and people checked what they needed before managers went inside to box up individuals’ orders.

“It’s a very stressful time for everybody,” Holland said. “Not only do you have to worry about not getting sick, but you also have to worry about if your bills are going to get paid.”

Nathan Hill is a barback at a restaurant in the Power and Light District. He said he’s fortunate to have a second job outside of the food and beverage industry, but he’s still feeling the effects of the shutdown.

“Everybody is devastated in the industry,” Hill said. “The second job was just to catch up, but now I’m working to stay afloat.”

Hill showed his support by buying a bottle, adding that he appreciated how Yard Bar was working to supplement its employees lives during this trying time.

“You never know what that money could be used for,” Hill said. “Maybe it’s rent for the next few months or something you need for the next couple weeks just to get yourself by.”

Holland said now more than ever is the time to be cognizant of other people’s situations and find ways to help those who are hurting financially.

“We are a community, regardless if it’s Westport, Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas, the whole country, the whole world. We are all a community,” he said.

Allred operates nine bars, including four in Westport, one Waldo and several others in Manhattan, Kansas, home to Kansas State University. In all, Allred employs some 200 people, most of whole rely on tips.

Allred said he would continue to sell the alcohol until it’s gone.

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