Winona alcohol distributors unable to meet demand says TABC - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Winona alcohol distributors unable to meet demand says TABC

Released by the TABC:

On November 3, 2009, the City of Winona in Smith County voted to legalize off-premise sales of alcoholic beverages. Before this time, restaurants within the county purchased their distilled spirits from package stores with a local distributor's permit outside of the county. Section 28.07 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code requires bars and restaurants to purchase their distilled spirits from package stores within their county. If the county does not have package stores, the bars/restaurants can purchase from package stores in adjacent counties.

Until recently, the restaurants of Smith County were legally able to purchase their distilled spirits from adjacent counties. However, now that there are package stores in Winona, Section 28.07 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code dictates that the restaurants must purchase their distilled spirits within the county.

After it was brought to our attention, the TABC decided to assess whether or not the two newly opened package stores in the City of Winona (Wildcat One Stop Shop and Ace's High Package Store) could efficiently provide the alcoholic beverages needed to sustain the businesses of the Smith County restaurants.

The assessment included a review of all the liquor purchases made by the two package stores since January 2010, pictures and diagrams of the premises of both package stores, and a list of the 50 licensed restaurants in the county and their purchase orders. Our assessment took into consideration the manpower, square footage facility space, vehicles, and ability to acquire the inventory necessary to efficiently supply the Smith County restaurants.

After careful consideration, it is my assessment that currently these two package stores alone will be unable to meet the needs of the market; thus, placing a great burden on the businesses currently operating in Smith County and potentially creating an undue disruption of the marketplace.

This is not the first time that TABC has temporarily suspended enforcement of §28.07 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code when new package stores opened up subsequent to local option election results. When the City of Anna in Collin County legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption in 2005, our agency conducted an assessment similar to this one. We determined that requiring the bars and restaurants to purchase from the fledgling package store was unreasonable, and waived the law until additional package stores opened and were able to manage the demands of the retailers.

My decision today in no way prevents local restaurants from purchasing with newly established businesses in the community. In fact, I encourage it. However, to require it today could potentially disrupt a present day stable alcohol marketplace in Smith County. The stability of that market is very important to the citizens of the community and to Texans as well. If there are relevant changes in the marketplace in Smith County, TABC may reassess upon notification of those facts. I believe that a pause in this area of the law is appropriate today and solicit your understanding and support.

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