Whitesboro voters opted to approve a ballot measure on Tuesday allowing for the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city, including mixed beverages. The measure passed by 66.19 percent with 887 votes for compared to 395 against.
Voters in neighboring cities Sherman, Collinsville and Tioga have recently passed their own alcohol elections in recent years.
In early voting for the election, it was 652 votes for with 322 against. Final results won’t be counted until mail-in ballots are received. Registered voters had until Tuesday to postmark their ballots to have them in by today.
A number of local businesses are racing to be the first to offer alcoholic drinks in the city. However, there are still some unanswered questions facing the businesses hoping to capitalize on the measure. There remains a question of how far away a business needs to be from a church or school in order to sell. That issue had not been decided by the Whitesboro City Council at the time of the election.
Councilor Colby Meals said the council would have to take up those issues at a future meeting. He didn’t know if it would be on the agenda for the council’s meeting next Tuesday, however, he said the council will certainly have to pass some measures on the topic.
“I want to make sure that we aren’t too restrictive,” Meals said. “The citizens have overwhelmingly voted to pass it, so I believe we owe it to the citizens to make some commonsense decisions for our community with a focus on protecting the children, while allowing our community to grow, expand and welcome new opportunities. We have a city council meeting next Tuesday, and I expect we will have more information available then.”
Pizza Hut is currently only table-service restaurant to have expressed a possible interest in selling beer in town.
Pam Battle, new business development for Bergen Foods, the company that owns the Pizza Hut location in Whitesboro, said the company currently sells beer and wine in all of its Texas locations. She would not officially confirm the Whitesboro location would follow suit, but she said it was likely.
Carolina Palomera, a manager for La Hacienda Mexican Grill, said the election would not affect the restaurant because it already operates as a private club, allowing for the sale of beer and wine.
There are three gas stations with convenience stores in the city limits. EZ Mart, located on Main Street; Happy Stop on Union Street and Allsups on U.S. Highway 377.
Bawinder Singh, the owner of the Happy Stop, said he is planning to apply for a liquor license, but he has concerns about restrictions the might pass. He said the council could pass rules limiting where a business in town could sell in proximity to a church or school, which causes him some concern because his business is close to a church.
Mike Takhar owns a liquor store in Tioga. When Collinsville approved alcohol sales he tried to expand into that city. He said he no longer has a location in Collinsville but is watching how things unfold in Whitesboro.
“The liquor market is becoming more diluted as more cities go wet. Small towns are growing faster than they anticipated and more of them are going wet,” Takhar said.
He didn’t have any current plans to do anything in Whitesboro at this time but said he is watching things closely to see how it develops.
Brookshire Brothers is the only grocery store in the city. The store is preparing to move forward with adding alcoholic drinks to its inventory as soon as all the permits are in place.
Sally Alvis, senior director of marketing and public relations for Brookshire Brothers, said the store will sell whatever the city allows.
“If the community chooses to allow the sale of beer and wine in Whitesboro, Brookshire Brothers will support it,” Alvis said. “The city secretary has to verify the election returns and then the City Council has to approve those results. Once all of that is done, Brookshire Brothers would begin its paperwork, have the city sign it, and send it to the State. That could take 45 days.”