To Go Alcohol Brings Business to Local Texas Restaurants
By Alaina Hayden
Photography By Alaina Hayden
AUSTIN — Among numerous changes that come with the COVID-19 pandemic, Texans may be surprised to see something interesting on their local restaurant menu.
As of Mar. 18, restaurants are allowed to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks to go, as long as they are accompanied by food. Previously, in accordance with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission guidelines, customers were not permitted to take alcohol off restaurant property.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, alcohol sales account for 30% of restaurant revenue. In Gov. Greg Abbott’s press statement, he said that these waivers are intended to alleviate lost business during the pandemic.
Susannah Holmes, a resident of Houston, Texas, knows that this pandemic is affecting her favorite local Greek restaurant, Gregory’s. “We’ve become really good friends with the owner and his wife since they’ve opened. We really needed to eat there because we love them, and we care about them and don’t want them to go out of business,” Holmes said.
Holmes said the owner has started using an app to streamline online orders and designated special curbside parking for pick up.
However, some restaurant employees are concerned that these waivers could do more harm than good.
“If you’re in front of someone and you’re giving alcoholic beverages to them drink by drink then you can kind of monitor it. But if they’re buying a whole bottle then you don’t know how well they’re going to take it at home,” Tara Bianco said.
Bianco lost her job as a waiter at Moonshine in downtown Austin when Mayor Steve Adler closed all bars and restaurants, in accordance with the Center of Disease Control guidelines. Her location has closed its doors until the scheduled reopening, which as of now is May 1.
Bianco has concerns about the ability to identify underage customers. She said it is always hard with every delivery service to ensure the person you are serving is over 21. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, an employee and the restaurant can be held responsible if a minor is served or if a customer is overserved to the point of intoxication. Bianco said this leaves employees in uncharted waters.
“It’s hard because what if someone tries to pull a fast one on a restaurant,” Bianco said.
Holmes agrees there needs to be clarity in the regulation of to-go alcoholic beverages, but believes it will benefit local restaurants. She remembered how happy it made the owner of her favorite eatery when he recognized her order.
“He was very happy to see us. And was like ‘Oh yeah I saw your order and thank you so much for supporting us’,” Holmes said.