Alcohol

Hoping for a Wetter Dallas

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Yesterday I had the rare pleasure of signing a petition for something I actually care about. A woman was collecting signatures outside Whole Foods, and I initially assumed she wanted to mandate recycling, ban trans fats, or do something similarly objectionable. But it turned out she was pushing a referendum that would allow grocery stores throughout Dallas to sell beer and wine.

When I moved here, I thought the city's weird restrictions on alcohol sales were the result of complicated zoning rules. But according to a 2003 New York Times story I discovered after signing the petition, in the '70s Dallas voters "left three of the city's four precincts dry and made one wet." It seems that division, combined with zoning, explains why alcoholic beverages are available only along certain corridors. It has been surprisingly difficult to nail down the details. The city's Web site says liquor stores are allowed in "CR, RR, CS, central area, MU-2, MU-2 (SAH), MU-3, MU-3(SAH), MC-2, MC-3, and MC-4 districts." Thanks for clearing that up. 

A Web page promising exactly what I was looking for—a "Wet/Dry Map and List" for Dallas—came up empty. The Dallas Morning News  had stories about this month's wet referendum in Richardson, just north of here, but nothing on the Dallas campaign. According to the woman outside Whole Foods, they need 60,000 valid signatures to get the referendum on next spring's ballot. Assuming they're successful, I'd like to think most of my neighbors won't insist that I continue making special trips to buy beer, wine, and liquor.

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  1. There’s a lot wrong with Texas. This is only the start. Of course, no place in San Antonio is dry…the locals would never stand for that.

  2. Be careful Jacob. That’s the same type of petition that anti-gay marriage petitioners were using to trick people here in Massachusetts.

    The top petition was for legalizing alchohol sales, while the rest of the petitions underneath were for “marriage is one man-one woman”. They’d show you the top petition, then sneakily get you to sign a lower one.

  3. Jacob, welcome to what has to be the weirdest Texas political fact possible. Beats LBJ and Box 13 by a mile. I grew up in Commerce, Texas, which was the only wet town between Dallas and Texarkana, save one little burg that consisted of a Baptist church and three liquor stores. My parents were friends of the local beer distributor, who gave thousands of dollars to the ‘drys’ when Sulphur Springs, fourteen miles to the east, tried to legalize booze. The drys won, and Commerce is still sin city for the region.

  4. I’d like to think most of my neighbors won’t insist that I continue making special trips to buy beer, wine, and liquor.

    you might like to think that, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a safe bet. in massachusetts this past election, something like 55% of the voters rejected just such an initiative.

    there was a flood of tv advertising describing the blood in the streets that would ensue if drunk drivers could more easily buy alcohol. the ads were not, as i first suspected, paid for by madd or some police-related association. they were, of course, paid for by the liquor store owners association.

    -cab

  5. while i was typing, xmas and karen between them conspired to remove any new information from my post.

    need to learn to type faster.

    -cab

  6. I guess I’ve yet to come across the place in Dallas proper that doesn’t sell beer or wine, of course with idiotic day/time restrictions. Where I live (just north of White Rock Lake), there’s a liquor store on every corner and beer/wine in all the grocery stores I visit. So I was very surprised to hear such a petition was even needed.

    The northern burbs (Richarson) still have remnants of the old “unicard” in effect, which seem to be something like private drinking memberships at each bar. I’ve seen many a petition to remove those idiotic rules but I’m not sure if any have yet to pass.

  7. “there was a flood of tv advertising describing the blood in the streets that would ensue if drunk drivers could more easily buy alcohol”

    Get between me and my drink and I guarantee there will be blood in the streets. 😉

  8. As a Californian, I remember being shocked at discovering that New York City (New York City!) limits wine and liquor sales to — well, wine and liquor stores. And conversely, you can’t buy anything but wine or liquor at a liquor store; not even a corkscrew.

    In L.A., we can buy beer, wine, whiskey, and a lot of other stuff at any neighborhood grocery store.

  9. This same type of petition failed in Boston because of a liquor-sponsored campaign scaring people about underage drinking and drunk minorities.

  10. I must spend all my time in the wet area, because the grocery stores I go to (Whole Foods on Greenville and Tom Thumb at Mockingbird and Abrams, plus the occasional trip to the Minyards on Gaston) all stock beer and wine.

  11. Easy access to liquor promotes teenage abortion. Anal-abortion. Pre-maritally. By illegals. And stuff. Anyway I wont be signing that petition. But I will be opening a liquor store on the edge of Mesquite.

  12. In L.A., we can buy beer, wine, whiskey, and a lot of other stuff at any neighborhood grocery store.

    Lots of other states have preposterous liquor sales laws. Those restrictions seem very inconvenient if you are used to being able to do all your shopping in one place. When we travel, we try to take our booze with us! Another reason to hate the new restrictions on liquids in planes – bet you didn’t know that the rum in your carryon is now a threat to the American way of life.

    Amazingly, life manages to stutter on in California, even though we can buy rum in the same 24-hour grocery store where we get frozen peas and ziploc bags.

  13. Small world, RC. That Tom Thumb is where I buy the wine which feeds my habit.

  14. Here’s one for you,

    When I lived in Indiana you could buy beer in grocery stores, but they could only sell it warm. You could get beer, wine, liquor, and soda at the liquor store, but the soda couldn’t be refrigerated. I believe this was so that they didn’t have to compete against each other.

    Nick

  15. In how many states are the liquor stores owned by the state? If I remember correctly thats the way it is in Penn. which of course is a real fuck you my man, kind of deal from uncle sams younger brother.

  16. Very small world–I grew up in Lakewood, a few blocks from that Tom Thumb; with the exception of some places in far North Dallas and Plano, I don’t recall ever having been to an area of Dallas that was dry. I’m assuming that Jacob was at the one way the hell up in Plano. Or in Highland Park, which is similarly evil.

  17. A couple years ago the state legislature was debating legalizing alcohol sales on Sunday here in Colorado.

    The nooze outlets interviewed a couple of liquor store owners who said that they were against the measure, because staying open on Sunday meant that their cost of doing business would go up.

    Personally, I’d happily pay a little more if it meant I could buy a bottle of wine on Sunday.

    Besides, it’s not like they would be required to stay open on Sundays…

  18. I live in Preston Hollow. None of the stores where I usually buy groceries–including the Whole Foods outlet and the Tom Thumbs on Preston Avenue–sells beer or wine. The closest options for alcoholic beverages are liquor stores on Northwest Highway and on Walnut Hill Lane near the 75. Further out, there’s Greenville Avenue, which has a cluster of liquor stores, plus supermarkets that sell beer and wine.

  19. I always assumed Dallas’ wet and dry laws had more to do with keeping “those types” who frequent liqour stores away from the nicer parts of town.

    My burb to the north, Murphy, home of the latest Dateline predator sting, just passed beer and wine sales. Hallelujah!

    Most of those against it made a bigger stink about a rise in crime than drunk driving. The Southern Baptists are much more concerned with “morality” and vice than public safety.

    But, we all know the difference between Reformed Baptists and Southern Baptists.

    Reformed Baptist say hi to one another at the liqour store.

  20. Check out Buckingham. This is a small section surrounded by Richardson. The developer managed to vote himself Wet in the late ’80s or early ’90s and then put in a couple liquor stores.

    First Richardson cut off his utilities, but a judge granted an injunction until he could hook up with Garland.

    Now, they need lots of police to direct all the traffic from Richardson residents buying liquor.

  21. Florida was the best. Almost every gas staion had cold loosies in the fridge and pint bottles of booze behind the register. It’s like they were just daring you to drink and drive.

  22. In how many states are the liquor stores owned by the state? If I remember correctly thats the way it is in Penn. which of course is a real fuck you my man, kind of deal from uncle sams younger brother.

    Is this true?? When I lived in Philly, the liquor stores sold wine and booze, but you had to go to a beer store / distributor to buy beer. (and usually by the case or the keg) Or you could buy a sixer “to-go” from many of the local pubs / bars. It didn’t seem like the liquor stores or the beer stores were state owned.

  23. I live in Far North Dallas and have to hump it across the tollway to Addison to buy booze. They’ve been pushing the same petition in front of the local Wal-mart. Hope it passes. Also, round here it’s not “near the 75”, just “near 75”.

  24. Matt, actually Louisiana had Florida beat flat. They used to have drive-through bars. Get a daquiri or a margarita in the same way you’d get a Coke from McDonald’s.

  25. Karen,

    We still have them, they just can’t put the straw in the drink for you anymore. That constitutes an open container.

  26. Bubba,

    Sounds like Crossroads up on 380 near Denton. In the 60’s a trailer park incorporated and voted themselevs wet. My dad went to NTSU(now UNT). He said you would drive out there and buy booze off the back of tractor trailer trucks. Now the whole town is just one big liqour store. It’s beautiful.

    In a related anecdote, his buddy drove the one cab in Denton back then. 90% of his fares were from the local bootlegger. The passenger was always a brown paper bag.

  27. Where I live in Texas, every convenience store has cold liquor and cold soft drinks, and most grocery stores have cold liquor, to.

    Most of these goony laws are local.

  28. Karen,

    Isn’t that Louisiana’s license plate slogan?

    “A Drunkman’s Paradise.”

    Actually we had some drive through daiquiri joints in Denton. I worked at one, but we had to make them with fortifide wine instead of booze. Nasty does not begin to describe them.

    Speaking of inovative drive through businesses,have any of you Dallasites seen the beer barns staffed by Latina hoochie coochie girls?

    Ennyce!

  29. Ty Webb: This isn’t Russia. Is this Russia? This isn’t Russia.

  30. Judging by the number of DFW drinkers on this thread I’d say Dallas is due for a Reason happy hour.

    I submit the Meridian Room.

  31. ya, i’ve seen those places w/ the latina ladies serving up the drive-thru. there’s like 2 of them over off columbia ave. now. for awhile it was a big deal because traffic was getting all backed up around these joints into residential alleys and such. this also being the same ‘hood where a bunch of paydance ladies went missing in the mexican bars a year or so ago. funny, since it’s right next to a cop substation. ahh, dtown.

  32. Cannonball!

    Right Back at you.

    Cannonball!

    Right back at you.

  33. meridian’s ok, but i got a full on empty bar currently at old monk. come fund my after work binge.

  34. Some of the beer Barn girls are muy caliente. Some look like extras from the whorehouse in Kill Bill 2. But, it is still a genius concept.

    Old Monk is fine by me. Hell any bar is fine by me.

    Unfortunately, the pregnant wife has requested Taco Bueno ASAP so I can’t be an accessory to the binge this evening.

    Lissette at the Beer Barn – here I come mamasita!

  35. Assuming they’re successful, I’d like to think most of my neighbors won’t insist that I continue making special trips to buy beer, wine, and liquor.

    Good luck. I spent six months in Granbury in ’00 and evidently at least there, the wet referendum fails pretty regularly, every time it comes up. Although I heard that the last two referenda there were at least close.

  36. there was a flood of tv advertising describing the blood in the streets that would ensue if drunk drivers could more easily buy alcohol. the ads were not, as i first suspected, paid for by madd or some police-related association. they were, of course, paid for by the liquor store owners association.

    Just one more reason we need to save capitalism from the capitalists, IMHO.

  37. Matt, actually Louisiana had Florida beat flat. They used to have drive-through bars. Get a daquiri or a margarita in the same way you’d get a Coke from McDonald’s.

    Karen, didn’t they have some quirky law with the straw wrapper? I.e. if you kept he little paper wrapper covering the end of the straw, it was not an open container and thus legal.

    Also, they’re drinking age was still 18 when I left there in 93, but it changed at some point thereafter.

  38. Goddam it, knock it off.

  39. I think Louisiana switched over around ’95 – I knew a kid there who was turning 18 just a couple of months after the switchover date, and boy was he pissed.

  40. It didn’t seem like the liquor stores or the beer stores were state owned.

    Liquor is state-owned.

  41. What other commenters have said here about the recent vote in Massachusetts is not exactly correct. They appear to have been confused by the very ad campaign which they are talking about.

    Massachusetts law prohibits any store from selling wine (the only beverage that would have been affected had the initiative passed) at more than three locations. This means that most grocery and convenience stores are ineligible for a license, because most of them are parts of chains that already sell at the maximum three locations.

    So one cannot buy wine at all Whole Foods outlets in Massachusetts, but you can buy it at three of them.

    You can buy it at some convenience stores, but only at three in the same chain.

    The law under attack by the initiative had the same motivating mentality of anti-WalMart activism: Big corporate chain bad, small businessman good.

    But that was not the mentality used to defend the current law. The campaign featured the Somerville Chief of Police warning about “convenience store” alcohol, as if no convenience stores were already selling wine.

    The ad campaign against the initiative was indeed financed by the liquor stores, whose humongous profits would be undermined if any of the chain food or convenience stores could suddenly put their full market power to use, buying and warehousing with an economy of scale, and offering lower prices to the consumers.

  42. I remembered moving to Dallas in ’89 and being befuddled, having has quite a capacity for drink at that point in my life.

    You go Big J in The Big D!

  43. Californicate may be a septic tank in many ways but it is pretty progressive about purchasing booze in the groceria….except between 2:00am and 6:00am.

  44. Chi-Town Tom, yep, PA owns all the liquor stores, one of the last hold outs. In fact, HSA’s Tom Ridge, former governor of Pa tried without success to get rid of the state monopoly on liquor sales. According to the kid’s godfather (may he RIP), a former denizen of the ‘Burg, some of the state stores were not bad and others were awful. Despite the state monopoly, he always seemed to be able to come up with good wine though. We used to compare prices, PA was always higher.

  45. And conversely, you can’t buy anything but wine or liquor at a liquor store; not even a corkscrew.

    I don’t know where you got that – it’s not true. Liquor stores in NY sell wine, liquor and related stuff like corkscrews and gift bags. Anyway the liquor store situation is a state-wide affair – NYC is often subject to the idiotic whims of Albany. But happily, we just got Sunday liquor sales – woo hoo!

  46. Arizona is about the same as CA – you can buy beer, wine, or booze at liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, etc until 2AM. If a place is open, it can begin serving again at 6AM unless it’s Sunday, then nothing can be served until 10AM.

  47. Wow, Low, in the old days we couldn’t get beer before noon on Sunday at the river. That wasn’t a problem, because we’d stock up on Saturday.

    One thing I always liked about Arizona is that I could take my girlfriend’s kids into the bars on the Arizona side of the river. That backfired one time though when that hottie was giving the guy a BJ on the barstool. Pretty sure they were drunk.

    The other time it backfired is when her oldest daughter slipped in Forty & Fading on the jukebox at Sports Valley. I was only 31.

  48. I think in most bars you can still take your kid in as long as they aren’t at the bar and are accompanied by an adult. Never seen anyone getting blown on a barstool, though. 🙂

    Also, TWC, it has only been a couple/few years that alcohol sales could go on until 2…is used to be 1AM. But I’ve said it before, it’s better to have it later because people aren’t slamming a bunch of shots and beers right at 1 and then driving home…people often chill out just before closing time and so have almost an hour to sober up, since the places can stay open until 2:30AM – they just take your drink at 2AM.

    So we’ve progressed – maybe it’s all the Cali transplants giving us ideas. 🙂

  49. “In how many states are the liquor stores owned by the state? If I remember correctly thats the way it is in Penn. which of course is a real fuck you my man, kind of deal from uncle sams younger brother.”

    Turns out not to be a bad deal. The state stores in Penna. may be high priced, but the state stores in NH and in Va. (where they’re the Div. of Alcoholic Beverage Control) have such bargains they draw customers from neighboring states. I’m guessing the taxes in states where the stores are free enterprise are higher than the rake from the state stores.

    Makes me wonder whether communism is cheaper than taxation.

  50. They are doing the same thing in MN right now, but I think they are just starting with wine.

  51. Lots of other states have preposterous liquor sales laws. Those restrictions seem very inconvenient if you are used to being able to do all your shopping in one place.

    Believe it or not, this was at one time my biggest argument against federalism. Shows what the priorities were of 20s me. I mean, some places you can’t buy anything on Sunday, some places you can’t buy liquor at the grocery store, some places you can buy beer but not wine on Sundays, some places you have to buy anything before 8 pm (connecticut, I’m looking at you… grrr). And of course, in Texas, some places you can’t buy anything at all. Who can possibly keep track of it all? Why, there oughta be a law! (not…)

  52. Low, I remember the 1:00 am last calls.

    The BJ was at Sundance on the Colorado River in Parker during the day–a long dang time ago. I was going to post a link to Sundance but apparently there is no webpage. Go figure.

    Was down in Tucson for Thanksgiving week. Thanks for the gorgeous weather and sunsets. Put Thanksgiving sunset on my TWC website.

  53. Great. More paychecks of lower income families being wasted on booze instead of food and more drunk drivers on the road. Why not just allow groceries to sell guns over the counter too? Wait, it’s Texas, so they might already.

  54. Dan T,

    Currently most of the area’s in and around Dallas zoned wet are lower income areas. The area where Jacob lives, Preston Hollow, has some of the priciest real estate in the Big D. So if the measure passes more paychecks of upper income families will be wasted on booze.

    As for drunk drivers, seems to me the farther you have to drive for booze the more likely you are to be a drunk driver. Although, what we are talking about here is the ability to purchase it at a store to drink at home. I would wager that most drunk drivers are coming from bars and restaurants, which can already sell booze in Dallas.

    And, what’s with your dim view of lower income folks? Are people who make less than $20,000 a year all hopeless drunks that are attracted to the neon lights of a liquor store like moths to a flame?

    As for the hacky Texas gun joke – what utopian, teetotling, gun-free state do you hail from? I’d love to move there. I’m sick of dodging drunken cowboy shootouts on my way to work.

  55. We tried the guns in grocery stores thing over here in Fort Worth where the West begins, but there was some trouble with draw downs in the express checkout lanes. Seems to be some debate where 3 apples in a sack is one or three items.

    “If you think you’re going to check out from this register with 13items in your cart, you had better skin that smokewagon and see what happens.”

    True quote, heard it myself.

  56. Why not just allow groceries to sell guns over the counter too? Wait, it’s Texas, so they might already.

    Not any more. But I remember when you could buy .22 cal ammo in grocery stores. Made sense, since most boys with double digit ages owned a .22 rifle and a bicycle, and when Mom sent them down to the market for something they could pick up a box of shells with the change. Course the kids had to go down to the hardware store to buy the rifle, and that required saving up for a while.

    That was in Barstow, California, before I moved back to Texas. The state was just starting to go left. I remember Mom getting disgusted when they passed a law that kept me from buying smokes for her.

    Back then the only gun control law was, “If you shoot anything I have to pay for, I’ll tan your bottom.”

    Somehow it worked.

  57. In this month’s Atlantic there’s an article by a guy moaning that a change in Massachusetts (?) law to allow a license holder to own more than 3 stores is going to be the death of mom and stores and decent wine as grocery stores and the like decide to stock mass-market crap. What’s funny is the very next article in the mag is by Virginia Postrel explaining all the great benefits retail chains have brought to the country.

  58. Florida was the best. Almost every gas station had cold loosies in the fridge….It’s like they were just daring you to drink and drive.

    We call them “travellers” Matt.
    (hic)

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