In response to House Bill 602's recent death at the hands of Anheuser-Busch, local restaurants such as Ziggy's Bar & Grill and Kata Robata have scratched Bud Light from their menus and have spread the word of this boycott through social media.
"We have '86 Bud Light' written on the door and people who got that, got it and it was hilarious," said Ziggy's general manager Taushah Crawford.
HB 602, which recently died in the legislature, would have allowed breweries to charge an admission fee to any visitor wishing to take a tour. The bill would have also allowed breweries to either gift or sell their craft beer to visitors. The provisions of the bill would have allowed Texas breweries to operate like wineries.
Anheuser-Busch intervened to stop the passage of the bill in the eleventh hour.
"[HB 602] has tried to go through a few times under different names and it probably would have gone through this time," Kata Robata
owner general manager Josh Martinez said. "[Anheuser-Busch] has nothing to lose or to gain from it."
While the restaurants' actions resemble a boycott, Ziggy's owner Kevin Strickland shies away from that label. Strickland instead stands by the mantra of small business solidarity.
Ziggy's and Kata Robata have also spread awareness through Twitter which has been instrumental to small business in Houston. Instead of actively enlisting participants, they hope other restaurants and small businesses will choose to stand beside them.
"What's really nice about social media, particularly something like Twitter, is it gives a small business owner the ability to have a voice and maybe level the playing field a little bit," Strickland said.
Strickland also credits social media for strengthening the ties in the Houston's local business community.
Texas House Representative Jessica Farrar authored HB 602. Local Breweries like Southern Star, Real Ale and St. Arnold's would have been able to reap those benefits.
Strickland held a rally to support HB 602 and craft beer in March 2011. A hundred people attended, including Farrar.
Strickland said Anheuser-Busch will eventually alienate small business through their actions and accelerate the removal of Anheuser-Busch products from other menus.
"Anheuser-Busch may have won this battle, but they're probably losing the war," Strickland said.
Refusing to sell Bud Light has not hurt sales for either restaurant. Craft beer accounts for a third of alcohol sales and five percent of total sales at Ziggy's. Bud Light usually ranks near the bottom of Ziggy's beer sales. Strickland credits the greater interest in craft beer to the decline in Anheuser-Busch products. Solidarity will help itself in the end.
"No one cares about Bud Light," Strickland said.
While Martinez has not named a replacement beer, Strickland will replace Bud Light with another craft beer Silver Light.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.