A pair of Brenham businesses are under the scrutiny of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), after the state agency received complaints alleging violations of Governor Greg Abbott’s recent executive order shutting down bars and limiting restaurant capacity.

According to TABC Public Information Officer Chris Porter, the agency is currently investigating complaints against The Yard and Pioneer Smokehouse to determine if they are following Abbott’s order, issued in June.  Porter said the TABC was made aware by the Brenham Police Department of a possible violation at The Yard—which is classified by the TABC as a bar—while the report against Pioneer Smokehouse was believed to have come from a citizen complaining of social distancing measures not being followed.

Porter said no action has been taken against the two businesses, and they will be given the chance to comply before the state takes any action.



The Yard is licensed to operate as a bar, meaning 51 percent or more of revenue comes from on-site alcohol sales.  Under Abbott’s order, this requires the business to close on-premises dining and drinking.  Meanwhile, Pioneer Smokehouse operates as a restaurant, meaning it can still operate as long as it only allows up to 50 percent of indoor seating capacity.

According to Leland Hartstack, owner of The Yard, the business closed Tuesday after the report.  He stated that, upon opening its doors and receiving its liquor license nearly a year ago, the business had to provide estimates of alcohol and food sales to the TABC.  At the time, Hartstack anticipated selling more alcohol than food, but as time has gone on, he said the business now sells 64 percent food to 36 percent alcohol.

Hartstack said he is now trying to go through the proper channels to prove to the TABC that it receives most of its revenue from food sales.  The establishment is still allowed to do takeout orders, but the closing of dine-in has made it difficult for his employees, who he said have had to take a cut in hours.  He expects the business could lose up to $5,000 a week in sales for each week the inside remains closed.

Hartstack added he is very appreciative of the support shown by the community during this time, saying people have reached out to him letting him know they have contacted the offices of State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and State Representative Ben Leman in support of him.  He said he is proud to see people standing up for their community and what they feel is right.

Porter said in cases where businesses feel the need to clarify their alcohol sales numbers to the TABC, they need to get authorization from the agency before they proceed.



Pioneer Smokehouse owner Mark Renn said the restaurant has complied with all of TABC’s requests and recommendations, adding that the only issue at this time has been social distancing among guests seated in the outdoor dining area.  He said, other than that, everything else has been “on the up and up” with the governor’s order.

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  1. I’ll say one thing….folks in WC now know where The Yard & Pioneer Smokehouse is located & its great they do. Now patronize them & help the local economy.

  2. Destroying the economy is not going to be good for public health. Less money for health care, not to mention the additional suicides and drug use that comes when people go bankrupt.


  4. I applaud The Yard & Pioneer Smoke House for keeping their doors open for many of us who REFUSE to live in vexation! This is still a free country! I choose to open my door, take in the vitamin D, and go out to eat pizza & BBQ! If you choose not to…don’t! But if you choose to stay home and collect lint, don’t assume & bleed false information to others that these great establishments are not adhering to CDC guidelines to the best of their ability. We need more people & places like them to open & get Brenham up and running again!

  5. In 1973, I was in Magdeburg EAST (communist) GERMANY, visiting good friends. One night while engaging in lively conversation with my hosts, they said (in German) “…step away from that window – our neighbors might be spies and eaves-dropping on us…” The current situation makes one wonder.

  6. The violation might have been reported by the local citizen’s auxiliary mask police (CAMP) which is made of volunteer public health advocates in the area of Washington County who are interested in seeing that Governor Abbott’s executive orders are enforced by businesses.

  7. The PIONEER SMOKEHOUSE?? It’s all outside folks. They are one of the LEAST RISK eateries in Brenham. ANYONE not feeling comfortable going there can just leave, and choose another location that is more suiting to their comfort level.

  8. Interesting to see how much ire this story has raised.

    While the reason for the reporting may be a public health interest, or it may be that the reporters have grudges against both owners, who knows?
    As a point of perspective, the idea that one should only worry about their own ‘backyard” might also apply to the fact that in Texas, a person is not obligated by law to report a building on fire, nor are they required by law to report a misdemeanor offense. That means if I see an old lady have her purse snatched at HEB or Walmart, I should just drive on and not give it another thought. As well, if I come upon an automobile accident, I am not required by law to do anything, nor am I required by law to stop my vehicle and remove a toddler from the middle of a busy street. I’m sure that Mr. Deans would [legally] agree that a/an CHL/LTC holder has no legal duty to defend another, even if that person is a victim of a crime in progress. Morally, maybe…but with today’s morals…
    It seems unlikely that the state is going to prosecute many establishments over the governor’s executive orders. If they do, I’m sure there are establishments in larger cities that more clearly demonstrate overt disregard instead of statistics not-yet-updated or questionable social distancing.
    Bottom line as I understand it–ignore everything that doesn’t have any direct effect upon you or your livelihood.

  9. I can imagine the type of person who would report a social distancing issue …… sad times for people trying to get by

  10. I said it would come to this with taking freedoms away disguised as security. Those of you constantly fighting for “stay at home” and “do whatever Dr.Fauci says” have lead to this. Those that are out of work or getting “tattled” on for trying to do so, thank you for your nosiness!! Why don’t you mind your own business, take care of YOURSELF, and stay home if you’re scared of your own shadow!! If you haven’t figured out by now that while the virus is REAL, it is being used to manipulate and control you, you never will.

  11. Yet the Chamber is having a social after 5 today at Appel???? I doubt social distancing will be held to the strict guidelines and there is always alcohol at these. Hypocrisy you think? Poor folks at Pioneer and The Yard are just trying to make a living but the chamber is having a party? SMH

    1. It never ceases to amaze me how much people in this area love to get into other people’s business. I have never lived in a place where there was such a huge amount of gossip, malicious back-stabbing and tattle-tailing, nosiness, etc.

      I guess some people having nothing better to do than police and inquire into other people’s lives…trying their very best to get others in trouble, cause drama, friction – you name it. Whomever behaves this way should be ashamed of themselves!

      Mind your own business people – let others make a living and support their families the best way they can. Leave it to the authorities to determine – without your help – whether or not someone is violating any restrictions.

  12. All of these orders and regulations are a complete and utter joke.
    This virus is bad for a very small percentage of the population.
    We cannot live our lives in hiding because less than 1/10th of 1% “might” die.
    Most of everyone will be fine.
    We all “might” die from thousands of things everyday we live.
    The Yard and the Smokehouse are doing nothing wrong at all.
    If you feel unsafe, then stay home.
    It is sad to see how many people are believing this virus is the end all.
    Open everything back up now, before anymore businesses fail and prosperity is crushed.
    Let the vast majority of us get back to work, back to school, and back to life!

    1. “Porter said the TABC was made aware by the Brenham Police Department of a possible violation at The Yard”. Maybe the Brenham Chief of Police can share with the owner/ public what they found to be disturbing ahead of tattling to TABC!?

      1. The words like tattling, or snitching indicate that there was wrongdoing, rules, regulations or laws broken. If nothing was being done of that nature, why are those terms being used in this instance? Not just here, but on various FB locations too.

    2. If they can’t follow orders they need to close. What is wrong with you simple minded people. How many more deaths have to occur for you all to see that this virus is very real. If we don’t contain ourselves you may be the next death we hear about. Can yal not cook?can you not drink at home? You people are spoiled and selfish and deserve all that God has in his plans for y’all. God did not give us the spirit of fear, but he did give us wisdom knowledge and guidance none of which y’all are complying with. Each person that transmitts this virus because of the ignorance of not social distancing and the wearing of the masks and in some cases knowing that they have the virus and continuing to spread it, in my eyes is murder. My Bible says thou shall not kill. What does yours say. To all of you that have a problem with taking orders non of us are perfect but there are some things that just self explanatory.

      1. How long do you expect people to staying in “hiding”? I for one will not. If you want to, that is your choice, but do not expect everyone to follow. The government is taking away more an more freedoms everyday.

  13. “while the report against Pioneer Smokehouse was believed to have come from a citizen complaining of social distancing measures not being followed.” MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS PEOPLE. IF YOU ARE DRIVING BY AND SEE A CROWD, GUESS WHAT, YOU WILL KEEP DRIVING. A CROWD SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OF YOUR CONCERN.

    1. Until I happen to come in contact with you in an elevator or pass by you in a hall and pick up germs. Then I can get it and I’m 69. No underlying health concerns but I STILL don’t want to end up in the hospital because you’re too soft to wear a mask or distance. So it is DEFINITELY my concern

  14. The great liberal tattle tales spying on their neighbors. German much! These hardworking American citizens deserve to be able to make a living just like Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, H‑E‑B, Kroger……you see where I’m going with this?!?! Socialist/Communist rule cannot stand.

    1. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Mind your own business. People in business are doing what they are supposed to do. Keep your eyes on your own back yard before you worry about someone else’s.

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