At Las Palmas in Dallas, a sign outside invites you to try the “Greg Abbott Special” -- cocktail kits, to-go or delivered with food.
“It really, really helped our business,” Las Palmas’ Ty Midkiff said. “We were able to maintain sales, keep people employed.”
Midkiff said alcohol-to-go sales remain significant even as restaurants are allowed to serve customers in dining rooms at 75% capacity.
“The to-go alcohol and the to-go sales are still a big part of our operation right now,” he said. “People are still being very cautious. Coming in wearing their masks, taking food home, drinking at home.”
Late Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted an article about restaurants pushing to make alcohol-to-go sales permanent. Abbott tweeted, “This has my support!”
That follows an April 28 tweet from Abbott about extending an alcohol-to-go sales waiver indefinitely writing, “From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever.”
On a May 21 call with journalists, the Texas Restaurant Association unveiled an eight-point plan to help the restaurant industry survive the pandemic – one of the points included expanding Abbott’s to-go alcohol sales waiver.
The TABC outlined rules that allow restaurants to sell cocktail kits instead of individually mixed drinks.
And according to alcoholic beverage sales rules, bars and nightclubs cannot sell cocktails off-premises.
“Why are we excluded from that? Why are we the ones with our hands tied and not able to do anything to help ourselves?” asked Teresa Sparks, owner of Chasers Lounge in Dallas.
Sparks said her club sells food, but not enough to count as a restaurant.
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NBC 5 first spoke with Sparks in mid-May when bars were allowed to reopen during the pandemic at 25%. At the time, Sparks asked why a waiver wouldn’t include bars that had no way of making sales for several weeks during the non-essential business closings.
Chasers Lounge reopened last Monday and with capacity at up to 50% for bars, Sparks said it’s still difficult to break even.
“I think it would be wonderful if the bars and nightclubs could sell the kits too,” she said.
She said she hoped lawmakers, if considering permanent alcohol-to-go sales in Texas, would consider a lifeline for bars.
“We have to have an outlet too. We all run businesses,” Sparks said.