Drink From Home

Will Texas Restaurants Be Able to Sell Alcohol To-Go Forever?

Gov. Abbott's tweet hints at a future where it might be so.

By Timothy Malcolm April 29, 2020

Taking booze home from the restaurant? It may be the new normal.

Months ago, the idea that Texas restaurants could sell alcohol to-go seemed outrageous to fathom. Yet here we are, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the governor is saying (or at least tweeting) that take-out alcohol sales may be the new normal.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says that restaurants with a mixed beverage permit are permitted to sell alcohol to-go, as long as—among other guidelines—it's distributed in the manufacturer-sealed container and accompanied by a food order. According to the TABC, under its "reopening Texas businesses" section of coronavirus updates, that permission will continue past Friday, when restaurants are allowed to re-open dining rooms to a maximum 25 percent guest occupancy, per Abbott's executive order.

But that's not all. CBS Austin first noticed the TABC's relaxing of the to-go option guideline, and the governor referenced it in a tweet on Tuesday.

That's a big deal in a state with historically tight and sometimes antiquated liquor laws. (Remember how long it took manufacturing breweries to sell their beer to-go?) Judging by what hospitality workers are saying in the aftermath of the governor's tweet, they believe it's something that's long overdue.

"I think it's a reality that things need to change and that includes how we allow restaurants to serve our guests' needs," says Sean Beck, beverage director at H-Town Restaurant Group (Backstreet Cafe, Caracol, Hugo's, Xochi). "I will work to put amazing wines in the hands of people, however I'm allowed."

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