Irving City Council Weighs Changes to Alcohol Rules

Proposal calls for changing city's current food-alcohol sales ratio

By Christine Lee
|  Wednesday, Jan 9, 2013  |  Updated 7:05 PM CDT
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Irving city leaders are looking at a plan to relax a 30-year-old restriction on alcohol sales at restaurants. Some businesses like the idea, while some community members are not.

Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving Reporter

Irving city leaders are looking at a plan to relax a 30-year-old restriction on alcohol sales at restaurants. Some businesses like the idea, while some community members are not.

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The Irving City Council this week will look at a plan to relax its alcohol ordinance.

The current ordinance, which is more than 30 years old, requires a sales ratio of 60 percent food and 40 percent alcohol. In November, the Planning and Zoning Commission proposed changing the ratio to as low as 30 percent food and 70 percent alcohol, like cities such as Flower Mound, Frisco and Southlake.

Scott Barin, iFratelli Ristorante and Wine Bar sales manager, said a change could make his business even better.

"Right now it's balancing out OK, but we do kind of walk that line from time to time," he said. "What this is going to do is open up a lot more flexibility for us -- possible expansion-type things."

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Chris Wallace, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the current ordinance is outdated and creates challenges to bringing in new businesses.

"We have lost some deals because of the lack of amenities -- particularly in the Las Colinas Urban Center -- and we cannot sustain that," he said.

But not everyone is on board.

Ken Branam, pastor of Plymouth Park Baptist Church, said he feared negative changes in South Irving, where much of his congregation lives.

"To reach the threshold of 30 percent food sales and 70 percent alcohol, you don't need much more than a microwave oven and nachos to reach that," he said. "You may have a high-end sports bar up north in a very controlled environment, but when you're in an economically depressed area, it's counterproductive to the way of life."

Longtime Irving resident Oscar Ward said he has reviewed the quarterly reports restaurants submit to the city and found few violations.

"In the last three quarters, there is about 135 restaurants that report and, of the 135, there is about two or three that do not meet the 60-40," he said.

Ward said voters should decide what happens to the ordinance.

"Irving residents should be the ones voting on this matter of 30-70 or whatever," he said. "It should be on the ballot, not just 65 people."

The City Council meets at City Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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