By Karen Daniels
Throughout the year, during the regular meetings and public hearings, Stafford City Council has discussed enacting a smoking ordinance. Council members’ varying positions have been revealed, but there was common ground with defining a difference between a restaurant (where families eat) and a bar (where adults drink). It was recommended that the distinction for a smoking exemption would rest with the type of license issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to each establishment.
Businesses with a mixed beverage license would be a bar and those with a food and beverage license would be a restaurant. At last week’s council meeting however, Art Pertile, the City’s attorney, explained that the type of licenses issued to each of the 83 businesses in Stafford are not as clear-cut as he had hoped. He gave examples of his findings:
• Pappadeaux and Casa Ole have a mixed beverage license (MB)
• Hooters – Food and beverage license (FB)
Mayor Scarcella still wants a “concerted effort of restaurants and bars to voluntarily prohibit smoking” and keep government out of business. Councilwoman Felecia Evans-Smith does not want a voluntary ban. She wants higher alcohol sales to define a bar. Council all agreed that more time was needed to process the information they had received.
At a later time, Richard Wills, with the TABC was interviewed, and he suggested that a possible solution for determining a restaurant from a bar would be the mandatory red or blue signs that must hang in establishments.
• Red Sign – No guns allowed. The establishment is recognized by the TABC for 51% or more in alcohol sales. Guns are not allowed in bars.
• Blue Sign – Guns are allowed (per business decision). The establishment is recognized by the TABC primarily for food sales. Alcohol sales do not exceed 51%.
Back at the council meeting, the floor was then opened to the public, and of the two who spoke, one (a non-Stafford resident) gave his ideas to make several line-item rules more stringent, eliminating future loop-holes. He said that “Forty cities in Texas are currently smoke-free” and this was the right thing to do. The Mayor asked him if he knew how many cities in Texas have abolished city property taxes. (None) “We are a Home-Rule City,” Mayor Scarcella said. “I don’t care what Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas are doing. I only care about what’s best for Stafford.”