AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Saturday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced Gov. Greg Abbott waived certain laws that prohibited businesses with mixed beverage permits from selling alcohol to-go.

The TABC has placed certain regulations around the sales, however.

Alcohol orders must be accompanied by a food order.

Businesses must hold mixed beverage permits (MB) and must also have permanent food service capabilities on-site in order to participate.

Jack Zimmermann, Owner of Devil May Care says the previous alcohol to-go model just wasn’t cutting it, he says he’s been adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.

“We were very limited in the types of alcohol we were able to offer,” said Jack Zimmermann. “There have been some frustrating moment along the way, but we are still here. For the cocktails, it gave us a very narrow window at which to operate.”

Previously liquor had to be packaged and sealed in its original container. The size of the bottle had to be 375 ML or below. Zimmermann says many spirits companies don’t make bottles in those sizes.

According to the TABC, alcohol to-go can be sold under these conditions:

  • Beers, ales, wines and/or distilled spirits can be picked up or delivered only when accompanied by a food order that was prepared at the business’ premises
  • Beer, ale and wine must be in their original container and with their original seal
  • Distilled spirits that are mixed into a drink are in a container that has been sealed with an adhesive label that states the MB permittee and the words “alcoholic beverage.” Businesses must then place the drinks into a bag that seals with a zip tie that is not transported in the passenger seat of a vehicle
  • Premixed beverages can now exceed 375 milliliters but businesses must ensure the quantity of alcohol follows responsible service practices
  • Distilled spirits can be sold to-go or for delivery in their manufacturer-sealed containers

Not all restaurants and bars are able to ramp up with this new model. The Nightcap restaurant and bar says they were just starting to get there feet grounded, until TABC shut them down Friday evening.

The executive order that stands says if a bar or similar establishment received 51% of its revenue in alcohol sales, then it must close its dining room.

“Operating during this pandemic has proved an incredible challenge for all segments of the alcoholic beverage industry,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Opening up the ability for these businesses to sell mixed drinks to go will help ease the burden for many of these struggling businesses.”

TABC says they will be regulating this and plan on suspending licenses if necessary.

TABC agents visited 628 bars across Texas Friday night, finding just 30 bars open in violation of the governor’s executive order. After TABC agents spoke with management and provided them with the executive order, 28 bars agreed to shut their doors. TABC says two remained open, defying the governor’s executive order. TABC issued an emergency order to suspend the liquor permits of those bars for 30 days.

The businesses issued an emergency order for a 30-day permit suspension are: 

  • The Whiskey Girl, Abilene
  • Outlaws Longview, Longview

The move comes after Abbott announced the shut down of bars at noon on Friday, to mitigate further spread of COVID-19. The re-opening of bars was originally included as part of Abbott’s phased re-opening plan for Texas businesses. Restaurant capacity has also been capped at 50%.