Voters in the Heights have spoken. By an overwhelming margin of 64 to 36 percent, the area’s residents have decided to approve a measure that allows for the off-premise sale of alcohol in an area that has been dry since 1912.
The vote pitted the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition, an H-E-B backed group that was supported by a number of small business owners, against Keep The Heights Dry, an organization of homeowners who expressed concern that selling alcohol would upset the neighborhood’s residential nature. Passing the vote opens the way for stores to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption in an area that's roughly bounded by White Oak Bayou to the south, 610 to the north, Oxford to the east, and Durham to the west.
H-E-B has committed to building a grocery store on the former site of a Fiesta at Shepherd Drive and 24th Street if the measure passed. The San Antonio-based grocer has tentatively submitted plans and a variance request to the City of Houston for a two-story store with a parking garage on the lower level and the store on top.
Count Treadsack CEO Chris Cusack as a fan of Tuesday night’s outcome. Although the vote doesn’t affect the company’s three restaurants that serve alcohol in the dry zone via a private club license, Cusack thinks adding H-E-B will be good for the neighborhood.
“Our friends at Revival Market will get to sell some really well-curated selections of craft beer and boutique wine at their long-standing establishment,” Cusack tells CultureMap. “I think we’ll get to have another excellent grocery store option in the Heights this is not pro-gun, and that’s a good thing for all of us.”
In the long term, Cusack says he would like to see the dry zone totally overturned. Doing so would allow Treadsack’s restaurants to shed some of the record-keeping and purchasing requirements associated with operating a private club.
“We think the dry area continues to be not supportive of small businesses,” Cusack says. “It’s a challenge to operate a small business with these laws in place, and we hope this will be the first step to change it.”