On Tuesday night, thousands of Heights residents showed up to the polls and ultimately voted to repeal a re-Prohibition liquor law in their neighborhood. Beverage sales are now legal in about 20 Heights-area establishments.
In fact, when Houston annexed the Heights, it was with the understanding that it would remain dry. That was in 1918. And in 1937, the Supreme Court ruled that the Heights would remain dry only until Heights residents came together to vote for a release of the dry ban.
Well, folks, this week, that finally happened.
But wait, haven’t we all enjoyed a beverage or two or few at Harold’s Tap Room and Eight Row Flint? The Heights has been a dry zone for 100 years, but restaurants and bars have been using an expensive loophole that allows them to sell liquor if they operate as a “private club.” That is why you have had to hand over your ID to be scanned every time you open your tab. As a part of this loophole, your favorite bars and restaurants also had to create a nonprofit and throw a percentage of all liquor sales into the nonprofit’s account. And getting access to that money to help improve their business and service was a hassle.
And to top it off, establishments in the Heights were charged at an 8% mark-up compared to any bar or restaurant outside of the dry zone. They also had to pick up the liquor in person. And they had to provide some sort of food service.
If you talk to most Houstonians, this is a law as antiquated as the law in Cleveland that requires a hunting permit to catch a mouse.
Some residents, however, voted against Prop F, in favor of keeping the 100-year-old tradition in the charming little Heights town-in-the-city. A small group of residents came together to try to keep the integrity of the age-old ban in effect, and there even used to be a website that pledged to “keep Heights dry” — but that website seems to be out of commission.
Either way, we can talk abut it over a drink. Cheers, Heights!
Here are a few of our favorite places that can now sell liquor like every other place in the city:
(Grocery and convenience stores still can’t sell liquor, so we will have to continued driving to the Fiesta Beverage Mart on Shepherd to stock up.)
Photo Credit: Francisco Montes, Houston