By Moses Leos III
Patrons of Kyle area bars and restaurants could soon be making their last call requests well after the midnight hour.
On Nov. 5, Kyle City Council voted 5-1 on the first reading of an ordinance allowing the sale of mixed beverages until 2 a.m. on any day of the week. Councilwoman Becky Selbera was the only dissenting vote. A second reading is scheduled for Nov. 18.
According to Kyle Mayor Todd Webster, the ordinance has the potential to not only boost revenue, but also increase the attractiveness of the city to outside developers.
“We are trying to diversify that segment of our economy,” Webster said. “I just think having establishments [open until 2 a.m.] is going to encourage more folks to look at Kyle.”
James Rios, owner of Centerfield and Desperados in Kyle, first approached the city on Oct. 14 regarding extending hours for mixed beverage sales.
According to Kyle Planning Director Manny De La Rosa, Rios sought to extend mixed beverage sales citywide from midnight to 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He also asked for the 2 a.m. extension on federal holidays.
One day later, a representative from EVO Entertainment approached the city with a similar request. However, that business sought later mixed beverage sales on any day of the week. EVO Entertainment, owned by San Marcos based group Texas Cinema, plans to open a 70,000 square-foot entertainment center featuring a bowling alley, movie theater and arcade, along with a restaurant and bar, in Kyle later this month.
Currently, Kyle operates under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s rules on the sale of mixed beverages. According to TABC code, section 105.03, permittees can sell mixed beverages between 7 a.m. and midnight on any day except Sunday, where sales can take place from noon until midnight.
Under the ordinance, which was crafted by Kyle City Attorney Ken Johnson, only those which are granted mixed beverage and late hour permits would be allowed to sell libations until 2 a.m.
However, Johnson said TABC is the only entity that can govern the 2 a.m. ordinance.
Mitchell Roberts, vice president of development with Texas Cinema, said extending mixed beverage sales past midnight would keep business in the city.
“We want to have a facility … where older crowds can have a drink and have a good time as opposed to not having to drive back into Austin,” Roberts said. “It would be great for the city, great for us and great for the people.”
But not all are in favor of extending mixed beverage sale hours.
Selbera, who voted against the measure, cited safety issues, such as a lack of lighting.
Kyle resident Jerry Kolacney spoke out against the measure during a public hearing on Nov. 5.
Kolacney said the council’s approval of bars and dance halls in the downtown district is setting the city up for a “spiraling decline.”
He fears the ordinance could increase crime in downtown, taking away from the area’s attractiveness.
“After closing time, the residents in or near the bars will need to have iron bars on windows and doors and front yard fences,” he said. “And guard dogs and barbed wire will be useful.”
According to Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett, current businesses that sell alcohol “have not been a problem to the community.”
He said each business has kept in contact with the police department and appear to have a strong desire to follow all laws. Barnett said he expects staffing levels to remain the same, as the ordinance encompasses the whole city.
With the current relationship between business and the police department, Barnett believes business could successfully operate under the new ordinance.
“Businesses have been very proactive that they make sure they have good communication with [the police department],” Barnett said. “I expect that to continue.”
Rios, who spoke at the Nov. 5 meeting, said the ordinance could limit the number of Kyle area residents from travelling to Austin or San Marcos bars after midnight.
Webster shared the same argument. He also said it would allow Kyle to compete for more “sit down restaurants.” According to Webster, Kyle residents have clamored for this kind of business.
While the ordinance would allow people to stay closer to home, it isn’t going to limit alcohol related issues.
“It would be ridiculous to say that someone isn’t going to get pulled over after midnight, or that there could be an accident,” Webster said. “But those things could happen before midnight, too.”
Councilwoman Diane Hervol believes the ordinance could spur development, particularly in the downtown district.
However, she also cautioned staffers to remain cognizant of surrounding neighborhoods. Hervol hopes to avoid alcohol related issues she says Buda is experiencing. “We have to be concerned for our residents,” Hervol said.