Restaurant owners sound off on OC prohibition

News this week that a group of rstauranteurs and retailers, including Kroger and Walmart, is pushing to make beer and wine sales legal within the city limits has Oak Cliff restaurant owners jazzed.

Many neighbors have long held that beer and wine sales, which have been prohibited in Oak Cliff for decades, would be a reason for winos to hang around our homes and businesses instead of creeping around Riverside Drive or Old East Dallas.

But so far, Oak Cliff restauranteurs are on board with plans from Progress Dallas, which just announced a petition for the November ballot. Dealing with private membership is expensive and time consuming, says Rick Barton, who owns Hunky’s and leads the Bishop Arts Merchants Association. He says it costs about $4,000 a year to maintain a private membership club license with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

"The difference is all the paperwork and rules you have to follow by having a private club, which were written 100 years ago or something," Barton says."It’s a big ordeal to keep up with, and the fees add up."

Besides maintaining a private club license, owners also are required to make 51 percent of their revenues from food sales.

Kathy Jacks says she opened Jack’s Backyard a year and a half ago because she wanted a live music venue in Oak Cliff, and she had lived here for 10 years. But maintaining a restaurant wasn’t part of her vision — she only did it because she had to — and it’s expensive.

"We’re trying to develop Oak Cliff, and a lot of people have bought property here, but they’re hesitant to make moves over here because we’re dry," she says. "Our restaurant is doing very well, but it’s very expensive to do both."

After 30 years in the bar business, Jack says she was unprepared for the "nightmare" of running a private club.

"I had no idea how difficult it would be," she says.


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