AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texans taking advantage of the availability of alcohol for pickup and delivery may be able to do that indefinitely.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission indicated on its website that to-go sales may continue after restaurants are allowed to reopen in a limited capacity on Friday.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he would allow restaurants to open for dine-in, but at reduced capacity with 25% occupancy.
On March 18, Abbott issued a waiver allowing restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with food purchases, including beer, wine and mixed drinks.
“Alcohol-to-go sales can continue after May 1,” Abbott tweeted, and he added, “From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever.”
Many restaurants in Central Texas have shifted to the to-go model during the Stay Home order.
“You know, you go from being a full service dine-in restaurant, trying to take that and turn that experience into something guests can re-live in their house,” said Matt Creekmore, General Manager of ATX Cocina. “It’s fun. It’s different and it’s something we’ve embraced. It’s finding the right items that travel well.”
Creekmore said ATX Cocina resumed offering takeout last week. He said about 75 percent of the customers added the restaurant’s margarita kit to their orders.
“It’s been a way to achieve a little extra sales and kind of continue to have ATX in tu casa, meals and margs on the go,” he said.
When restaurants sell mixed drinks to go, they have to give customers the drink components separately because alcohol must be in a manufacturer-sealed container.
Creekmore said, “I would really love it if we can see it to where we can individually pack them. We can craft it in house and sell a single serving. Hopefully that’ll come one day, but for now, I’ll take it in any way we can get it.”
He said keeping alcohol to go forever would help restaurants and bars.
“To make up for lost time, for lost revenue, if the bars are able to continue to do it, sell a kit or whatever the case may be, just to generate extra sales, any little bit helps for all those guys and for all of us,” he said.
There was no indication from TABC when alcohol-to-go might end, but the agency acknowledged to-go sales would only be allowed for the duration of Abbott’s March 13 disaster proclamation.
TABC Public Information Officer Chris Porter told KXAN, “The to-go provisions are in effect as a result of his disaster declaration. That continues for now. There’s no end date in place so far.”
A permanent change would need to be initiated by the legislature, which does not meet until January.
Porter said, “That kind of permanent change would require a change to state law, which would originate in the Texas Legislature, and once it passes there, it would be signed by the governor.”
“TABC staff is reviewing the governor’s report and working with his office to seek further guidance,” the agency’s website states. “We will continue updating this page with directives that will help businesses reopen safely under Gov. Abbott’s new executive order.”
The agency has shared additional details about to-go sales and delivery on its website.
“We do ask that anyone that has questions contact the TABC office,” spokesperson Chris Porter said by phone on Wednesday.