City Hall

Central Market to Ask Council For Variance to Sell Beer and Wine Next Door to St. Mark's

Used to be, a business situated too close to a school, church, hospital or daycare center that wanted to sell booze couldn't, except as a private club. But in the fall of '09, those rules shifted slightly, when the council said businesses bigger than 50,000 square feet could try to get a variance from the council. That was done on behalf of Big Boxes. And just two weeks ago, council rewrote that rewrite when it voted almost unanimously (only Angela Hunt was opposed) to lower that number to 30,000 square feet -- in large part to allow Central Market to sell beer and wine at its new Preston Royal location, due to open some time in "mid-winter." (I've asked for more specifics, given that it was originally supposed to be open "just before the holiday season," which is officially nigh upon us.)

Matter of fact, when it came time for the council to vote, Stephen Butt, senior veep of Central Market, came to the council to ask for the change to City Code: "Our company is in support of giving us the flexibility to build new stores and future stores within the city of Dallas," he said, "so we appreciate the council's support of our amendment request."

Ann Margolin, who reps District 13, was also very clear, insisting that the 30,000-square foot requirement was "still a very good size," and not to be confused with, say, "a little neighborhood store or a convenience store," to which the new rule would not apply. At which point she mentioned the Central Market going into the old Borders Books location: "It's near a school, but ... when this comes before [council] it won't most likely have a problem," as Central Market is "not a bad actor."

At which point Mayor Mike Rawlings said he too was for the amendment because "I appreciate organizations like Central Market and what they're trying to do in the city. I look forward to your being in Southern Dallas at some point. I think you can make some money down there."

We'll see when that happens. But this much is certain: At its Monday council meeting, there will be a public hearing about granting Central Market a variance at Preston Royal. Yesterday the meeting addendum was posted to the City Secretary Office's site, and it's right there -- Agenda Item No. 12:

A public hearing to receive comments regarding an application for and a resolution granting a variance to the alcohol spacing requirements from the St. Mark's School of Texas required by Section 6-4 of the Dallas City Code to allow a wine and beer retailer's off-premise permit for a general merchandise or food store greater than 30,000 square feet on property on the southeast corner of Preston Road and Royal Lane.
Update: When asked if there's a hard opening date set for the Preston Royal location, spokesperson Michelle Chism said no, not yet. She also sent along the following prepared statement sent elsewhere this week:
On Preston Royal, we're set for an opening's under construction.we've had our chefs traveling up to NYC to visit Zabar's, Eataly and Eli's and a # of other cool places to look for the coolest, tastiest, most authentic NY Deli Offerings - from latkes and noodle kugel to fresh pasta and carryout offerings. We're having a lot of fun working on the new offerings for Preston Royal, really trying to match unique flavors to the unique neighborhoods and communities in that area. We want it to feel personal!

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky