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Alcohol-to-go could soon become permanent in Texas

Alcohol sales approved in Lampasas
Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 00:00:58-04

The pandemic changed the way many businesses operate, especially those in the food service industry.

"We're doing good. Our sales are hanging in there, and have kind of come back to normal especially since Governor Abbott opened [capacity] up to 100%," said Lynsey Castillo, owner of La Fiesta Restaurant and Cantina.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Abbott allowed bars and restaurants, like La Fiesta, to sell alcohol-to-go, in order to give establishments a way to generate money amid COVID-19 restrictions.

"The first weekend it was open, we had a line that went all the way through the parking lot, down Franklin and then back Waco Drive. It was a big response. People enjoyed getting them to-go, especially for La Fiesta margaritas," said Castillo.

What was once a lifeline may now become permanent. A bill that would allow to-go alcohol drinks is waiting for final approval by Gov. Abbott.

It's something he's already expressed support for.

At La Fiesta, alcohol-to-go drinks have a seal that keeps the container closed and covers the straw hole.

"For them to allow, to let the industry continue to do that is big because I think that people's dining out experience has changed. When people do to-go or continue to do to-go, I think once people start a pattern, it's new and it's just what a lot of families are doing, so i think it's a huge thing for Texas to continue to do alcohol-to-go," said Castillo.

At La Fiesta, all of their drinks can be ordered to-go with the purchase of food. Customers say it's a great way to support local mom-and-pop restaurants.

"To-go drinks, to-go food have been able to let you have these things at home, so that's been a great way to keep the party going in the home atmosphere. Yes you can make them at home yourself, but there's just something about it that when it comes from a restaurant, it just tastes so much better. So that's why I enjoy getting them to-go," says to-go drink customer Kyndel Grimes.

While alcohol-to-go is new, the laws on drinking and driving haven't changed. Concerns have grown from Texans wondering how alcohol-to-go will affect people when they get behind the wheel of a car.

"If people start taking advantage of it and doing things the wrong way, we start losing these kind of things. So we're just appreciative of the law and appreciative to do so, and hopefully continue to go on with that," said Kyle Citrano with the Waco chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association.

He says everyone will need to be 21-years-old or older to order alcohol-to-go. Establishments as well as delivery drivers will be carding people.

Citrano says because alcohol drinks are sealed when made to-go, if people tamper with it and drink and drive, restaurants and bars are not liable for any accidents.