TABC says bars, breweries still bound to executive order, have to close patios after license modification

Austin

(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last week, bars and breweries around Texas were under the impression that they could open outdoor areas for beer to-go consumption if they were granted a temporary license modification, so they jumped at the chance to drum up more business.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said otherwise Wednesday, and the agency is ordering those establishments with 51% of their total sales from alcohol to close the patios and go back to beer to-go only under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

It was a misunderstanding, TABC said. The agency did not say bars and breweries could open patio areas after being granted the modification.

“TABC did not reverse course,” Chris Porter, TABC’s public information officer, said. “From the start, the guidance was intended to allow retailers such as restaurants the opportunity to temporarily expand their premises in order to allow outdoor seating or similar activities.”

“It does not give businesses who exceed the 51% alcohol sales threshold, such as bars or breweries, the ability to de-license a portion of their premises so they can circumvent the governor’s executive orders,” he added.

Porter said TABC made the clarification about the modification on its website Wednesday.

The Texas Craft Brewers Guild called it the “latest lack of leadership” by Gov. Abbott and TABC on its Facebook page. KXAN reached out to the guild for a statement and will update the story when we hear back.

The temporary license modification allowed for establishments to extend boundaries where they could serve and sell alcoholic beverages to a spot adjacent to their building, like an outdoor patio.

Bars and breweries around the state saw that as a green light to serve beer to-go and allow consumption of it in the areas temporarily annexed outdoors.

12 Fox Beer Company on Fitzhugh Road in Dripping Springs posted this on its Instagram page, celebrating when it thought it could open an outdoor area after submitting the paperwork for the license modification.

Breweries and bars can still sell to-go beer and drinks, but many brewmasters and bar owners do not think that’ll be enough to keep them in business.

A recent survey by the guild showed that two out of three craft breweries believe they will go out of business permanently before the end of the year while the governor’s order is in effect. Of the breweries surveyed, 33% said they don’t think they’ll make it longer than three months from now.

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