New breweries, wineries and distilleries could have an easier time finding places to open in Dallas under relaxed regulations before city council this week.
Alcohol producing businesses are not allowed to apply for an exception to the minimum spacing requirement of 1,000 feet from churches and schools under current rules.
Small, local alcoholic beverage makers are part of a nationwide trend that is moving faster in other cities.
Four Corners Brewing Company on Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas opened just over a year ago. Four Corners' brewmaster John Sims said the brewery is already hiring more people and adding a canning line operation to distribute more of its products.
“The breweries add culture to the city and I think that’s important, you know? People from out of town like to find out what’s local,” Sims said.
Times Ten Cellars has been making and selling wine in the Dallas Lakewood neighborhood for nearly nine years.
Customer Bess Dickson said school parent-teacher organizations hold meetings at the winery.
“It’s kind of a life center here of Lakewood. It’s wonderful,” Dickson said.
Times Ten Cellars' owner Ron Wilson said it was difficult to find an acceptable location when he opened. Wilson has heard that potential competitors are challenged because there are so many churches and schools, especially in older Dallas neighborhoods.
Wilson does not think wineries and breweries should be treated like bars.
“We have to close at midnight. It’s a different crowd than what you get at your typical drinking establishment,” Wilson said.
The change this week would allow new breweries, wineries and distilleries to apply for a spacing exception from schools or churches, to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re looking at modernizing our laws on breweries, especially after the actions taken by the state. In this last legislative session the state made it easier for breweries to operate,” said Dallas Councilman Scott Griggs.
A public hearing and City Council vote on the change is set for Wednesday at 1 p.m.
The City Council Economic Development Committee endorsed it after a briefing on Jan. 6.
Griggs said there has been no opposition so far.
“The culture is changing in very urban areas where people live near businesses,” Griggs said.
Dallas already allows grocery stores and restaurants to apply for similar distance exceptions.
Sims said small alcoholic beverage producers should be offered the same opportunity.
“It’s a big business,” Sims said. “It adds a lot of commerce, a lot of jobs. It’s a booming business.”