Round Rock Chamber petitions for vote to change alcohol sales laws

The Round Rock Chamber is starting a petition campaign to change liquor laws in the city. 

Currently, there are three different alcohol sales laws within Round Rock city limits. The chamber hopes to make a uniform law for the entire city so all businesses can compete on an even playing field.

Round Rock voted to allow liquor sales at restaurants in 2002, but since that election, other parts of the surrounding county have been annexed into the city. Businesses that opened on the annexed land are still required to operate under the previous liquor laws.

“Honestly it makes no sense,” said Pete Pearson, owner of Buffalo Wings and Rings.  

80 percent of Round Rock allows beer, wine and liquor sales at restaurants with no strings attached, but in other areas, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission requires customers to become a "social club member" to order mixed drinks. 

“We take your driver’s license, we go scan it in our point of sale system, and it determines if you're a member already or not. If you're not a member, it prints out a sheet of paper you then sign accepting a membership into our social club, and then we have to vote on whether we allow you into our social club on Sunday,” Pearson said.  

Selling liquor at a restaurant where Pearson’s is located comes with a hefty price tag for business owners. “In order to adhere to the law, you must lease this system that monitors these memberships, so it's a swipe database system, and those can run anywhere from $1,000 to 2,000 a month,” said Mike Odom, president of the Round Rock Chamber.   

That can make it difficult for restaurant owners who must comply with social club member laws to compete with restaurants that don't fall under that requirement. 

“It's the hardest obstacle for these businesses to overcome,” Odom said.  

“It seems really odd. We've had people say, ‘no,’ they won't do it, ‘what are you going to do with my data?’ We've had people think we're doing nefarious things with their driver's license. It's just odd,” said Pearson. 

To cut down on the confusion, the Round Rock Chamber is leading the effort to petition for a uniform alcohol sales law on the November ballot. 

“This is not a fair, level playing field for our restaurants to do business,” Odom said.  

The chamber needs 6,600 signatures by July to get the law on the November ballot.

To sign the petition registered Round Rock voters can visit the chamber office or look for a consultant currently canvassing neighborhoods. 
However, any land annexed into Round Rock after a potential vote this November would face the same issue all over again. Read more about the issue here.