Letter to the Editor
Few would consider Historic Downtown Grapevine to be a haven of bars and rowdy nightlife. Yet there is an idea among our city council that Grapevine is one beer away from becoming a Wild West saloon district.
Grapevine City Council on March 19 denied approval of a request to sell beer by local restaurateur Gary Farina, owner of the popular Farina’s Winery and Café. This denial by council has not been well received by many in the community and sends a growth-stifling message that Grapevine might not be as business friendly as its reputation.
According to Mr. Farina, guests often come into his cafe, sit down and order a beer. Finding no beer on the menu guests leave and go to one of many others restaurants nearby that do serve beer.
Taking the NIMBY position, the Mayor strongly asserted that the denial was needed to keep downtown Grapevine from becoming a “haven for bars.” His comments might have seemed more valid if Mr. Farina was a new applicant proposing adding another entirely new restaurant that serves beer and wine. But Farina’s is an established mom-n-pop restaurant.
With support from other Grapevine restaurants and businesses, Mr. Farina approached council with a simple appeal to help his small business compete among other Main Street restaurants that do serve beer. Mr. Farina wasn’t adding tables or seating, or extending his hours. He wants is to compete within the mix of Historic District restaurants the city council has already approved. Mr. Farina wants to grow and to succeed. Yet council questioned his veracity and discounted his comments.
As Mr. Farina stated, “I’m not extending my hours. I only want to add beer to the menu. And I do not want to serve mixed drinks.”
To which, council member Stewart scoffed, “Oh, you’ll be back here in six months asking to serve liquor.”
“No, I won’t,” said Farina.
Farina’s Winery and Café is one of seven winery tasting rooms in Grapevine. Council member Spencer made a valid observation that the City has spent “millions of dollars” to create and market Grapevine as a tourism destination where visitors can enjoy a wine tasting experience. Because of Texas alcohol laws, if Farina is permitted to serve beer, he can no longer claim winery status. That would be a loss to our city, said Spencer.
But Farina’s is also a full-service restaurant, something the other local wineries are not. And Mr. Farina clearly stated to council his understanding of the potential consequences losing “winery” status. Isn’t that his business risk to take and his decision to make?
So, yes, tourism is a key component in the local economy. But why deny an established business owner the right to compete within the restaurant rules city council created?
Grapevine City Council’s NIMBY attitude sends a growth-chilling message of business constraint to ALL Grapevine small business owners. And Grapevine restaurant and businesses ought to be very concerned.