La Carafe's Planned Beer Garden Stymied By City Hall Snags

About three months ago, we reported exciting news for downtown drinkers who also liked to light up. La Carafe was planning to expand into the vacant lot next door. The addition was to be in the form of a beer (and wine) garden.

Back in 2008's Best of Houston issue, we awarded the handful of already existing tables on the sidewalk outside the venerable bar's front door "the Best Place to Smoke and Drink."

In defense of that pick, we cited the "prime view of the skyline" and the chance to bathe in the sweet sounds of the bar's killer juke, and even trotted out a quote from late columnist Sig Byrd, who once called Congress Street that "old, crowded, tired avenue once so proud, so bright with gaslight and hearty laughter."

And we rejoiced that more people would soon be adding their hearty laughter to that tired avenue, people smoking and drinking in the beer garden outside of La Carafe.

Apparently the City of Houston has other plans.

Although La Carafe owner Carolyn Wenglar owns both La Carafe and the vacant lot in question, she has been told that patrons would not be allowed to carry drinks from the bar to the tables on the lot. Wenglar told Hair Balls that the narrow space between the two properties is a city-owned alley, and to cross that alley with booze in hand would bring on the Mayan Apocalypse two years early be in violation of Texas liquor laws, and thus have held up her permit.

"I just don't understand," Wenglar says. "I own both properties. And you'd think they would want the chance to make money off my expanded business."

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