Battle is like David & Goliath say Winona alcohol distributors - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Battle is like David & Goliath say Winona alcohol distributors

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

WINONA, TX (KLTV) - The state has pushed back a decision that will determine if Smith County restaurants must follow a state law. It is a TABC law that requires restaurants with mixed beverage permits to buy spirits within the county. This means the new liquor stores in Winona would supply all of Smith County. Many Tyler restaurant owners don't want this law enforced, but Winona stores are sticking up for themselves.

A wet city, Winona is the first of its kind in Smith County. Now home to two alcohol distributors, the rest of the county should be turning to them for business. Joseph Harris, owner of Aces High, is frustrated the rules are not being enforced yet.

"We have doubled and tripled our inventory thinking we were getting wholesale," said Harris.

But, TABC says that does not happen automatically.

"We are not going to enforce that law until we have decided that those package stores can manage the capacities," said Carolyn Beck, with TABC.

While TABC assess if the stores can handle the demand, many Tyler restaurants argue the supply is too large. That is why only six out of 48 restaurants with mixed beverage permits have shopped in Winona.

"Basically, at this time, they don't have the ability on a single visit to be able to stock all of the different types of distilled spirits that our specialty restaurants rely on," said Bob Westbrook, with the Texas Restaurant Association.

Westbrook says if business in Smith County continues as usual, it will be temporary, giving Winona stores time to grow.

"There is just his period of time it is going to take to make everything run smoothly," said Westbrook.

Waiting for more restaurant business, Harris says it is become a David and Goliath battle.

"We are little bitty boys out here and the big boys don't like the way the little boys are playing," said Harris.

TABC says Smith County restaurants can continue purchasing alcohol outside of the county until the law is enforced.

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