UPDATE: The TABC has responded to some of our concerns and cleared up some errors and misconceptions about over-serving investigations. Carolyn Beck, director of communications, especially wished to stress that the quote from the Houston Chronicle below regarding one TABC agent for a county with over 800 establishments was untrue. Please read this updated post for more.
|Photo by Bob Franklin|
|If the wine list is making you see double, it's time to cut yourself off (even if the restaurant doesn't).|
A few weeks ago, I endured a rather unpleasant dinner at The Rouxpour -- the subject of this week's cafe review -- which had nothing to do with the food itself and everything to do with two very drunk patrons.
After being harassed by the two men throughout the evening, I finally retrieved a manager and told him bluntly: "These guys have clearly been over-served. Can you please do something about it?"
My request fell on mostly deaf ears, as the men -- regulars, by their account and that of our waitress -- were allowed to stay. And, it seemed, to continue drinking.
I spoke with Lincoln Ward, one of The Rouxpour's owners, about the incident a few days later. Ward was appropriately upset at the actions of the two customers and his manager, but assured me this was not common practice for the Sugar Land restaurant.
As genuine as Ward was, however, I had a hard time believing that The Rouxpour had never over-served a customer before. The entire restaurant and patio that Thursday night had been packed with loud-mouthed, inebriated customers. And the subsequent Monday night -- during Monday Night Football -- was almost equally rowdy.
But this isn't a problem endemic to The Rouxpour. It's a problem across the state of Texas, where, according to a July 14 article in the Houston Chronicle by James Pinkerton, the understaffed Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission struggles to investigate hundreds of over-serving complaints across thousands of establishments -- sometimes with only one agent in a given county to handle upward of 800 liquor outlets.
In the last year alone, the TABC only investigated one complaint of "Sale/Serve/Deliver AB to Intoxicated Person" in Houston, which took place at a bar called The Playground, which used to be a Mr. Cash payday loan store according to records pulled from the TABC's Public Inquiry database. In 2011, there were two investigations: one at an illegal gambling parlor and one at the Baker Street Pub in Tomball.More »