NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A beer store in North Richland Hills closed Saturday, after a city police officer determined it was violating state and local orders by allowing customers to drink inside.
The store’s other locations, in Keller and Highland Village, remain open as local governments interpret and enforce state orders differently in the state’s staged reopening plan.
What’s On Tap sells beer for customers to take home, filling cans and large containers from dozens of taps. It also serves beer by the glass, on site.
It is licensed by the state as a Wine and Beer Retailer, and after only selling beer to-go for weeks had started serving customers on site again last week in limited numbers, when Governor Greg Abbott allowed retail stores to open in a limited capacity.
Owner Brad Trapnell said there were about eight people in the store off of Grapevine Highway Saturday, when a police officer stopped and asked why they were operating. After an employee there explained the retail permit allowed them to open the officer left, Trapnell said, only to return later and tell the employee the store could not serve people on site.
“It’s just unfortunate that the same state that licenses us as a wine and beer retailer is also clarifying us as a bar under this category,” Trapnell said.
A spokesperson for the city’s public safety department said Monday evening the officer did not order the store to close, but only to stop serving customers beer on site.
The officer stopped at the store while on regular patrol and did not write a citation.
The spokesperson wrote that on-premise consumption of alcohol only applies to restaurants.
Trapnell’s locations do not have their own kitchen, but sell some snacks and partner with other nearby restaurants to have food delivered, and allow customers to bring their own.
“You could go down the street at XYZ restaurant, sit at the bar, have drinks, not order any food,” he said. “I don’t understand how that’s any different really.”
His two other locations are serving customers inside and on patio seating, with capacity limited to 25-percent. Trapnell said he has continued to pay rent, taxes and payroll, increasing salaries for employees who no longer receive tips for their work.
He was expecting to try to reopen the North Richland Hills location Tuesday for to-go beer only again.
“You know what, we’re going to play ball,” he said. “We’ll play the hand we’re dealt. It’s going to be tough.”
The city’s legal department confirmed Monday that a to-go only operation would still be legal, and another spokesperson said Trapnell had been notified of that.