Piano Bar seeks first 'liquor by drink' license

'Private club' designation, perception hampers business, owner says

Come Sept. 1, the Piano Bar & Steakhouse hopes to be Milam County's first business to operate under the new liquor by the drink statute approved by Rockdale voters in 2007.

Piano Bar owner John Williams said the process to get a liquor license was expensive, but will end up being much less bookkeeping and hopefully bring in more business.

"This will make it so much easier on the paperwork," Williams said of he and wife Stacey operating under the new rules instead of having a private club structure. "You wouldn't believe the paperwork my parents (former owners Ed and Mozell Williams) did and now Stacey does."

Other bars that serve liquor in Milam County must operate under the private club regulation.

"Now it will be just like if you were to walk into a Chili's over in Austin," he said. "Other towns can't do this because they haven't voted in the liquor by the drink ordinance."

Williams said the perception of being a private club has hurt his business, even though "joining" the club generally involves only a small, one-time membership fee totaling a few dollars.

"So many people think they can't come in here. That hurts us more than anything," he said.

The club designation also carries stricter marketing rules. "We can advertise food specials, but we can only advertise drink specials in-house," he said.

Williams will begin running the TABCrequired legal advertising this week and still must take a TABC training to learn the regulations.

The state offers beer and wine licenses and a more expensive liquor license with additional regulations attached. Williams said the cost of licenses can be reduced over time through compliance and no issues involving the law.


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2009-07-30 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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