Businesses want right to sell wine, stronger beers

Votes try to repeal law in Gillespie County


If you belly up to a bar in Harper, Texas you better like beer and wine coolers because that is all they are serving at the Headwaters Saloon, the only bar in town. 

The law will not let them sell liquor or wine in this small Hill Country community located in Gillespie County. The law dates back to 1935, two years after prohibition ended. 

Local voters in the precinct that includes Harper, decided to keep a ban in place on drinks higher than 3.2% alcohol by weight.

"I just think it's an outdated law that needs to be changed," said Lori Hollender, owner of the Headwaters Saloon. "We can't sell anything above 5 percent and even some beers we're not allowed to sell." 

Now Hollender and other local business owners want to repeal the old law.

The push to change the law began with a petition drive this past Spring that was started by another local business, The Cafe at the Ridge.

"We found out that we couldn't have wine because it had too much alcohol in it," said Royanne Smith, manager of the cafe. "You don't think that in 2013 that something back from 1935 is still a hindrance for you to have alcohol."

Smith says she was just responding to her customers who want to enjoy a glass of wine with their meals.

For now, she has a 'bring your own bottle' policy in place to skirt the law.

"They can bring a bottle in if they want to, we just can't serve it to them," Smith said. "They can bring it in and drink it at the table with their dinner but they sure would like to not have to do that."

If voters decide to repeal the law next week, Smith said she plans to offer Texas wines and local craft beers at the cafe.

Up the road at the Headwaters Saloon, Hollender believes she could even attract more business if the outdated law is repealed.

"I believe we'd get a few more ladies come in. We don't get a lot of  female traffic in here and it may be because of a beer issue," Hollender said. "They'd rather drink wine coolers,   which we do have wine coolers, but they prefer wine. There's not a lot of ladies, that like beer, every now and then they'd like a nice glass of wine."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.

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