Vote Yes on Prop F to Repeal Heights Alcohol Restrictions

A coalition of independent Heights restaurants, including those under Agricole Hospitality, are asking voters to approve a ballot initiative that would make ordering a cocktail in the area a little easier.

A nearly century-old law on alcohol sales in the neighborhood requires customers to hand over their license and join a private club in order to consume booze in bars and restaurants. The November 7 ballot will include Proposition F, which if approved by Heights voters would eliminate the Prohibition-era law. 

Ladies enjoying cocktails post-Prohibition. 

Ladies enjoying cocktails post-Prohibition. 

While the current process isn’t too onerous for patrons, it’s a regulatory nightmare for the establishment, requiring a lot of paperwork and red tape that puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage to counterparts elsewhere around town, says Agricole’s Morgan Weber.  "Voters who support this measure are casting a vote in favor of small businesses like ours," he says. 

According to a recent article in the Houston Press, “restaurants must set up functioning nonprofits to handle the booze, figuring out a percentage of alcohol-to-food sales and immediately depositing that money in the nonprofit's account, which is only accessible via cumbersome fixed fees. The clubs are also required to use a Class B distributor, such as Spec's, and are also charged at nearly 8 percent higher cost than establishments located outside the dry zone. Plus, they can't have liquor delivered, but must pick it up in person.”

The Houston Heights Restaurant Coalition collected more than 1,500 signatures to get the measure included on the ballot. But the language on the proposition isn’t clear, so Morgan and other proponents want to make sure voters know a vote “for” the proposition will eliminate the law. 

"It's such a massive pain," Morgan told the Press. "We spend a lot of money tracking this and it will allow us to operate as easy as everyone else in the city." 

Election Day is November 7 but early voting starts Monday October 23. 

AJ Mistretta