Round Rock bars to extend hours, neighbors worried about noise

Thursday, Round Rock City Council gave final approval to an ordinance to extend the hours bars, restaurants, and hotels can serve alcohol. “We're not just north of Austin anymore,” said Michelle Ly, co-owner of the Alcove Cantina and The Rock Sports Bar. 

New businesses line main street in downtown Round Rock every year. “To watch it grow from ‘94 to now, 2018, almost ’19, it's been a world of change and it's exciting,” Ly said.   

With new growth come changes to old ordinances.

That's why Round Rock City Council shook things up a bit when they voted to allow business owners with a permit to serve alcoholic beverages until 2 am every night of the week.

Downtown bar owners hope the change will help keep customers from leaving early for bars with later hours just over the Travis County line. “On the weekends I feel like it hits us, because you would see us be completely full and then at 11 to 11:30 it's completely empty,” said Ly.  

“I mean it's like a flood of people that go into Austin at 12 and 1 on Saturdays, it's crazy,” said Rick Franey, a customer at The Rock Sports Bar.  

The council's decision was hard to swallow for some local homeowners who fear extending bar hours will only add to loud noise late at night. “That was a real slap in the face of people in downtown Round Rock,” said Greg Kirwin, who moved into his home 22 years ago. 

Kirwin’s neighborhood is half a mile away from Main Street. Still, he says he calls the police about twice a month to report loud noise from downtown bars. “I should have a right to be in my house at 10pm at night and not have to listen to noise from eight blocks away,” Kirwin said.  

Kirwin has been asking Round Rock City Council to revise the noise ordinance for more than two years. The City is drafting some of those changes now, but that’s not fast enough if you ask Kirwin.  “Everybody says, ‘We don't want another 6th street. We don't want loud music.’ And for every comment the response was, ‘Well, we're only going to double the number of bars downtown,’” said Kirwin.   

Bar owners like Ly said they are more than willing to work with neighbors to keep the peace. 

“We'll be in compliance whatever the final decision on the noise ordinance is,” Ly said.  

She just wants the opportunity to encourage more people in Round Rock to drink local. 

“I think it's a great change for Round Rock,” said Ly. Businesses wishing to extend hours to 2 am will have to apply for a new permit with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

That could take several weeks to get approved. 

Ly said she only plans to extend hours on weekends, at least for now.