By BILL PETERSON
The town grew a little bit larger Friday night. The day drew a little bit longer. Like it or not.
Early Friday morning, the city announced that ten bars in San Marcos secured 2 a.m. permits from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and could immediately stay open for that long, ushering in a new day for the city.
How would this new era change life in San Marcos? Could the city handle the pressure of allowing revelers to drink out and about until 2 a.m.?
Thirsty for answers, one reporter endeavored to find out by closing the bars.
Fortunately, there is absolutely nothing to report. When the bars on the courthouse square closed at 2 a.m., the throngs who filled the establishments quietly went their own ways. By 2:30 a.m., the square was every bit as quiet as the square has been at 2:30 a.m. on virtually ever other night of its history.
Unmistakably, though, the places were packed to the end. Rocky LaRue’s, J’s Bistro, The Showdown and Harper’s Public House, among others, were crammed wall to wall with people who just wanted a social glass well past midnight.
“I went to college in this town,” said Allen Shy, who has ownership interests in Rocky’s, J’s and Harper’s. “I put myself through college in this business. People don’t realize that people work in restaurants that close at 11 p.m. and they need another 45 minutes to get their side work done. They want to go out and have a beer with their friends. Until now, they had to go into Austin, or on a Saturday they would have until 1 a.m. here.”
Like much of the late crowd Friday, Shy said that, ultimately, 2 a.m. isn’t going to be a big deal. And he’s right. But it is a small, important deal. It says San Marcos can handle it, which it certainly can. Of course, the city already knew that, which is why voters went 71 percent in favor of extending the hours in last November’s election.
The night life in San Marcos isn’t like the night life in Austin, which has turned increasingly insufferable in recent years. About one of six weekend nights in Austin is Jerk Night, utterly polluted with drinkers sensing entitlement to truly irksome degrees.
The night lifers in San Marcos simply don’t have that arrogance. On the whole, the college kids are sweet. One very seldom encounters the sort of rudeness that has become routine in Austin. Of all the reasons for imbibing in San Marcos rather than Austin, and there are many, the most obvious is that the people here aren’t so cooler than thou.
As always, they were nice again Friday night. By that indication, San Marcos will handle 2 a.m. smoothly. And prosperously. And the city will celebrate better than ever.
Said Shy, “After being in the bar business since 1994 in this town, it’s going to be nice to have a normal New Year’s Eve.”
Friday night didn’t bring in anything so officious as a new year. It merely brought in a new day, a longer, bigger day in which a town with much to celebrate has a couple more hours to do it.