Local brewery challenges TABC over to-go sales
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - The operators of Fire Base Brewing in Temple are expressing frustration with local Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents after being told they were violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s June 26 bar closure order by selling their beer to go without also selling food and then later being told to-go sales are allowed.
Last week, they along with the operators of many breweries across the state, expanded outdoor seating, based on TABC guidelines, to serve customers while still following the governor’s order.
"It was like a lifeline for us, we were able to get people back out here, increase our sales and interact with our customers again in a safe way," co-owner JD McBride said Friday.
However early this week, they say the TABC reversed that order, saying outdoor seating, even at 50% capacity, is in fact a violation of the governor’s order.
Fire Base says two local TABC agents came to the business Thursday night and said to-go sales were not allowed because the brewery wasn’t also selling food.
McBride says in the moment he didn't ask many questions, but after sleeping on it, decided to fight back after reviewing documents the agents provided.
Friday morning, McBride says the TABC reversed its stance, and said to-go sales were allowed based on the businesses permitting and licenses.
"We have a wine and beer retailers permit with a brewpub license which allows us to make our product on premise," McBride said.
According to the TABC, those licenses and permits do allow for to-go beer sales, however a liquor license, which Fire Base does not have, would not allow to-go sales without food sales.
"Why the change why the interpretation last night and then the change in interpretation this morning?" McBride asked Friday.
He says he and his co-owners aren't sure how to move forward with so many different interpretations of the state order from local agents.
O’Brien’s Pub around the corner in downtown Temple says inconsistency has been the name of the game when it comes to its understanding of the rules as well.
Owners say it took three weeks of working with the TABC before it allowed them to restructure their business.
Now, the pub can allow customers inside as long as food is purchased with all alcohol sales.
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