Popular pizzeria denied alcohol permit after neighbors push back

The building's neighbors appealed the planning and zoning's decision to allow the restaurant to serve alcohol. (KXAN photo)
The building's neighbors appealed the planning and zoning's decision to allow the restaurant to serve alcohol. (KXAN photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Having the chance to sell alcohol is proving difficult for a popular pizzeria in San Marcos. Gumby’s Pizza is looking to relocate just off the downtown square and their new neighbors are not happy.

Gumby’s applied for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption on Oct. 24, 2016. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved their request Jan. 10 with various conditions. On the same day the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the request, the San Marcos city clerk received a letter of appeal from Kathryn Dillon.

Those conditions in the permit stated that Gumby’s could only dispose of bottles in the dumpster during daylight hours, music and speakers are not allowed outdoors, and that the permit is only valid for one year. However, those conditions and that permit is no longer valid after San Marcos City Council members voted to appeal the Planning and Zoning Commissions decision.

“I voted to allow Gumby’s to open their restaurant and follow the rules set out by Planning and Zoning,” said San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides.

Thomaides is one of two that voted to allow Gumby’s to sell alcohol. “Do I think [the council made] a good decision, no I don’t,” he said. “It’s not like it’s in the middle of a neighborhood.”

Adam Higdon, a co-owner of Gumby’s, says he was extremely shocked when the Planning and Zoning decision was overturned.

“If I’m trying to up my pizza game, I’ve got to be able to get a drink with a meal,” said Higdon.

The new location for Gumby’s is set to open at 312 West Hopkins. The plot of land is properly zoned for the business.

Dillon is a co-owner of Crystal River Inn, she says her appeal wasn’t against Gumby’s but rather turning her neighborhood into an entertainment district.

“If it was an upscale restaurant that closed at 10 p.m. nobody would have a problem with alcohol per se,” said Dillon. “But the issue is, should Hopkins become party central and an entertainment district?”

Dillon says her bed and breakfast business already has to deal with one loud bar right next door, so the thought of adding a pizza shop with an outdoor patio on the other side, makes her nervous.

“If this becomes Sixth Street, if this becomes an entertainment district, it brings bars and restaurants right to the door step of a fabulous old historic district that’s one of the largest in Texas,” said Dillon. “I hope that they understand that people would like to sleep and understand that there are other people that are going to be victimized if that becomes a very popular party place.”

But Higdon says Gumby’s is just a restaurant, not a rowdy bar and this decision makes it hard for the locally run business to expand.

“It’s very sad to see the way they have turned against some of the locals here,” said Higdon.

“Every other pizza restaurant in our downtown that is a full service restaurant is allowed to sell alcohol and to serve alcohol with their food. That’s what people want,” said Thomaides. “I am a small business owner, and I would hate to not be allowed to do what my competitor is allowed to do.”

Higdon says they are now looking at ways to appeal the decision and still plans to open later this year as a BYOB.

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