Thursday, May 16, 2013
Plano stores prepare to add liquor to shelves
Nearly 70 percent of voters approved the liquor option on May 11.
PLANO Less than a week after voters approved package liquor sales in the city of Plano, local beer and wine retailers are ready to expand their offerings, and are looking to do so as soon as possible.
Starting May 21, the day after votes from the election are canvassed by the City Council, retailers may begin the application process for a liquor license. The local option to allow package liquor sales in the city passed May 11 with 66 percent of the vote.
First, city building inspectors must ensure an applying establishment meets all state distance requirements, including verification that the location is 300 feet or more away from a school, church, or hospital, and complies with local zoning ordinances -- usually a three-to-five-day process.
After the city's pre-approval, the application must be sent to the state comptroller's office to ensure no state taxes are owed. Finally, the completed application is submitted to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, which usually takes about 45 days to render its approval and issue a license.
Shawn O'Connor, wine director at Angel's Beverage in east Plano, said his store, which currently sells beer and wine, will apply for a permit May 21. In January, shortly after a petition to take the measure to voters was submitted to the city, O'Connor said liquor sales could double his store's business.
Chuck Wong, co-owner of S&K Beverage at Spring Creek Parkway and U.S. 75, said he will also apply on the 21st, adding he expects liquor sales to provide an opportunity to improve his business.
While retailers will face restrictions on operating hours as soon as their permits are effective -- unlike beer stores, liquor retailers may only be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and cannot be open on Sundays -- Wong said he is optimistic about his future and doesn't expect to lose money due to the restricted hours.
"Hopefully the liquor will cover a little bit of the volume to take over the loss," he said.
It's not just locally-owned retailers looking to get in on the act. John Rector, president of the Sigel's Beverages chain, said his location at The Shops at Legacy will seek a liquor permit, and that the election could mean an expansion of the existing store and even new locations.
"You're going to see several stores pop up in Plano," he said. "It's a good market that clearly wants to have liquor available, so I'm sure myself and my competitors will be looking for available spots in the city."
Total Wine & More, a national liquor chain with stores in Dallas and Fort Worth, contributed about $69,000 to the pro-liquor campaign. Edward Cooper, a spokesman for the company, said the chain hopes to open a Plano store this year but has no concrete plans at this time.
Prior to the election, liquor proponents often said Plano restaurant owners had to pay high prices to purchase wholesale liquor from Anna and Lowry Crossing, the only two cities in the county allowing liquor sales prior to May 11, due to state laws requiring restaurants purchase the liquor they serve from distributors in the same county.
Angel's will apply for a permit to become a distributor, O'Connor said, meaning it will be able to wholesale to Collin County restaurants that serve liquor. Wong said he will likely do the same.
Jerry Kezhaya, the owner of the property Angel's rents, said he has already received inquiries about renting space in his development for a liquor store, though he does not anticipate a "rush" of new establishments since most of the city's existing beer and wine stores will likely be applying for permits already.
O'Connor expressed a similar sentiment, adding both locally owned stores and existing chains already have a loyal customer base that newer stores may struggle compete with.
"The existing establishments are going to have a foothold," he said.
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