When Torchy's Tacos re-submitted a two-year old bid to sell alcohol within 300 feet of Fulmore Middle School, they forgot to take into account the lasting power of Austin Interfaith. Leaders from neighboring Travis Heights Elementary PTA, St. Ignatius Catholic, Oak Creek Village Tenants Association and St. David's Episcopal Church were already organizing around funding for after-school programming and maintaining affordable housing in communities near the school when apartment complexes are redeveloped.
The night before Torchy's petition for a permit waiver, 200 parents, school staff and community leaders assembled with school board members and city councilmembers to leverage their support for affordable housing, after-school programming and, now, reaffirmation of City law against alcohol sales near schools. On stage, Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo and AISD Trustees Paul Saldaña and Jayme Mathias all pledged to oppose the variance.
Within hours, Torchy's Tacos released a press statement promising to "withdraw and refile" their waiver request. Said Rev. Brian Ferguson of Wildflower Church in response: "We are glad, for the moment, that alcohol is not going to be sold close to the school," but "the law says you can't sell alcohol within 300 feet. This has gone on for two years..." Leaders are prepared to continue the fight if they refile.
[In photo: Rev. Bill Wack of St. Ignatius Catholic speaks to audience.]
Torchy's Withdraws Request to Sell Alcohol on Congress, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
Facing Pressure, Flagship Torchy's Drops Alcohol Waiver Request, Austin Monitor
Torchy's Bid for Alcohol Permit Takes a Hit from Officials, Faith Group, Austin American Statesman
Council: Burning Daylight, Austin Chronicle