“Sales are quite high,” said Nick Bradley, Somerset’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) administrator. “More than what we make in the fees, the overall impact you’re looking at is probably around $12 million. It’s made a big difference.”
So far, the city has given out about 35 licenses to businesses selling alcohol in some form — whether the five package liquor stores, the bars, or the more numerous restaurants and groceries or gas stations selling malt beverages.
Of those, only a few are new businesses — three liquor retailers, and the bars, though a couple of those are additions to pre-existing entities.
New restaurants are on the way, though — most notably, perhaps, Texas Roadhouse, the body of which is becoming more complete by the day on South U.S. 27. Bradley acknowledged it wouldn’t be here had Somerset voters not opted to go “wet” in June of 2012.
“It takes a little time for those to develop,” he said of Somerset drawing new business opportunities because of alcohol. “We expected it to take a while for more new developments to come in.
“Most of what we’re seeing are package sales,” he added. “By-the-drink sales comes along with new developments. They’re a very small percentage of overall sales on a monthly basis.”
Indeed, malt beverage sales have totaled $9,337,929 over the last year, with individual drink sales only reaching a little over half-a-million dollars and liquor package sales just shy of $1,800,000.
Still, the additions are prevalent — Bradley said all but a couple of convenience stores within the city limits sell beer — and that could mean additional money for businesses to hire more employees.
“For those that wanted (alcohol sales in their stores), it’s helped them,” said Bradley. “We’ve tried really hard to be strict and let it have little impact for those that didn’t want it. We take that part very seriously.”