Texas law regarding consumption of alcohol on Sunday before Noon

Here's something I've been meaning to promote here on the RJG, and I forgot about. This probably doesn't apply to the majority of you, but for a borracho like me, I find it very important.

As a rule, we like to eat our lunch early (generally between 11:00 and 11:45), primarily because we've already run 3.5 miles and I don't feel like breakfast. Especially on Sunday's - and Mexican food is usually very high on our list of choices. Well Mr. RJG loves his frozen margaritas with his Mexican food, especially in the summer! Now comes the dilemma - will the restaurant actually serve me the drink without question before Noon on a Sunday? 95% of the time the answer is yes. And those 95% of the times, the restaurant is technically breaking the law. Not that I would ever tell...

The TABC's website is incredibly vague on the topic. They say nothing more than "Sunday: Noon to midnight. (10am-noon only in conjunction with the service of food)". Very well then, so obviously chips and salsa count as food, and that's why no one questions the situation. Right? Well...

The other day, I ended up getting into an argument with a restaurant manager who refused to serve me unless I ordered an appetizer. Like queso. OK, let me get this straight: Chips are not food, queso is? Yea. We like this restaurant quite a bit (they're in the blog), so I'll leave their name out (though Mrs. RJG is holding a grudge and doesn't want to return). I was furious (especially since they always served us before and it never was an issue), but I ordered the queso to solve the immediate problem, and we'll just enjoy our meal - and frozen margarita.

Was the manager right? Somewhat, but not entirely. I felt like he was trying to up-sell me (hence our anger), and it looks like I was right on that front. Was it ignorance or deceitfulness on the part of the manager? This I'm not sure of, but he handled the situation poorly in any event, without a clear explanation of why he suddenly wouldn't serve us. It was a $5 shakedown on a regular customer. Not cool.

Frustrated, I finally called the TABC myself to solve this once and for all. I want to know what exactly is the law so I have it in my back pocket when this situation comes up again whereever I might be in Texas (hopefully they'll repeal this law in the meantime). The gentleman I spoke with was incredibly nice and informative. I was just blown away by his customer service skills. It's not something I expect when calling a government hotline. He was very clear: You must order food when you order your drink. It is true, complimentary chips (or peanuts) do not count. And the restaurant must offer at least 8 different items if they are to serve alcohol before noon on Sunday (Prohibition Laws - don't you just love them?). So I told him my story, and then I asked "So if we had just gone ahead and ordered our meal right there, we would have been fine?" "Yes, that's correct". He went further: As long as you place your order at the same time, you are within the law. Doesn't have to come out right away - or at the same time as the drink itself. There it is. No further explanation needed. He agreed that there was no reason for a restaurant to sell an extra appetizer. But the restaurant was right too: You do have to order food.

Now we know.


Mervis said…
Interesting. I've received many a beer starting at say 11:40AM or so while waiting for the Bears game to start in whatever watering hole I'm in. Always wondered about that. I'd "heard" that since they were serving food it was OK. Didn't know it had to be me. LOL.

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