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Cowgirls' close came as shock to employees

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 4, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 3, 2012 at 7:04 p.m.

The wooden dance floor, along with liquor bottles, DJ equipment and more were among the items removed from Cowgirls, a Victoria nightclub, when owner Jeffrey Tisdale decided to close. Manager Stacie Graves said employees received no prior notice about the closure.

The decision to close Cowgirls, a Victoria nightclub, came as a shock to company employees.

Stacie Graves, who managed the bar, said she left about 4:40 a.m. Sunday, after wrapping up the New Year's celebration. After stopping for coffee at a nearby gas station, she returned to the bar, 4106 Houston Highway, to make sure she'd turned off the lights.

It was then, she said, she noticed owner Jeffrey Tisdale's car in the parking lot.

"He was supposed to be in Houston," she said, propped on a folding chair inside the bar. "But he was there dumping ice, which he never did."

Later, she said, he returned with a U-Haul truck and helpers, and began retrieving items from inside.

"They were physically running," she said, explaining they took everything from liquor bottles to the DJ equipment and even the wooden dance floor. "It was a complete shock."

Graves said she contacted Bryant Price, the building's owner, who arrived at 7:30 a.m. to check out the situation.

When Graves went in about 10 minutes later, she said she found Tisdale behind a bar, drinking water. He told her, 'Don't look so sad, Dear. It's just business.'"

"That was the only explanation," said Graves, who worked at the bar since its October 2009 opening. "We just don't understand. If this is just business, why did he show up at 5 a.m. with a team to load the truck?"

Tisdale said his move to close was a business decision he made recently, but did not offer further explanation.

"We had a good run of it for two years, but you have to move on sometimes," he said. "I'm glad the move is over. It's finished."

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had nothing to do with the closure, said Sgt. John Mann, with the organization's Corpus Christi and Victoria offices.

In September, Cowgirls faced a suspension during which it could not sell or purchase liquor, for various TABC violations.

"There have been a lot of calls for service by the police there but, as far as the reason he is closed today, it's a decision Mr. Tisdale made," Mann said. "We were not consulted about it."

Tisdale must complete some administrative issues with the TABC to close the business out, he said, but those are routine business practices.

Price said his goal now is to work on cleaning the 15,000-square-foot building and making repairs. Bar surfaces were damaged throughout the move-out process and people cut through the plastic tubing to the soda syrup, leaving floors and carpets sticky.

He said he's already fielding calls from people about the building and hopes to get another tenant in soon.

His main concern, however, is for those who worked there.

"I feel worse for all of the employees, the staff and their families," he said. "It's been tough."

As for Graves, she said she isn't quite sure what to expect down the road.

She's already spoken with people about reopening the bar, but nothing is set in stone. Whatever the case, she said she wants to maintain ties with her close-knit group of coworkers.

"I hope to keep the family together," she said.

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