BANGS — Beer sales at the Food Plaza and Allsup’s will continue as normal despite a change of ownership, closing the door for a potential challenge by Bangs ISD.
With both the Food Plaza and Allsup’s bordering Bangs ISD properties, Bangs ISD Superintendent Tony Truelove petitioned the city council to rescind the variances granted to Food Plaza and Allsup’s that allows them to sell beer and wine.
“Our reservations are not with the sale of alcohol specifically,” said Truelove before approval of the petition in June. “It’s the sale of alcohol by establishments that border our property. They are right here. You can look at our parking lot, and the parking lot of one of the businesses and one could say ‘Whose parking lot is that, theirs or ours?’ It’s the proximately to small children that worries me.”
Truelove expressed concerns with the location of the stores presenting a clear and present danger to the community. Due to Food Plaza’s location just outside of the Bangs High School football stadium, its presence alone would increase the likelihood of a citizen or visiting fan purchasing beer or wine and knowingly, or unknowingly, violate state law by bringing it onto school property.
“It’s also the proximity to our football stadium,” Truelove said. ”... I don’t want for it to be so convenient people could ice down their alcohol before the game, come out during halftime, drink a little bit and go back in. In no way are we saying these things haven’t happened in the past somehow. We’re just saying it’s more convenient for these things to happen.”
When petitioning the city council fell through, Truelove turned his attention to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission to revoke Food Plaza and Allsup’s, but the TABC took no action because the permits had already been issued and an evaluation can only take place when the business in question reapplies for its permit.
“Once a permit is issued, unless there is some sort of public safety issue, business will operate as usual,” said Christ Porter, TABC public information officer. “Nobody may protest the issue if a permit already exists. If you open a bar and one of your neighbors had an issue with it, and wanted to close it down, they could not come to TABC with a protest until that renewal period. In essence, Food Plaza will operate until 2020, short of some catastrophic public safety investigation. The school would not be able to protest their permit until 2020.”
During Wednesday’s Bangs Economic Development Commission meeting, Bangs City Council member Carol Wells announced a Houston-based investment group would contract the Food Plaza while Allsup’s will be under new ownership after a Pennsylvania-based investment group purchased the convenience store.
“They’re not local people. They’re a group of people that get together to buy local businesses,” Wells said. “I talked to Lisa, a manager at a store in Coleman, and she said everything is going to stay the same. That’s a change.”
Bangs City Attorney Mark Bessent said a change in ownership of the Food Plaza and the Allsup’s will not open the stores to a challenge to their permits because the permits are not tied to ownership.
“The bean burritos will stay the same,” Bessent said. “… There was a question whether or not. They gave a variance to the two convenience stores to sell beer and wine and there was a question whether the transfer of ownership would effect the variance. They made the decision it would not effect the variance and the variance will continue. It goes with the property.”