by BRAD ROLLINS
Torchy’s Tacos — an edible Austin icon held in high esteem by enthusiastic fans — will open its anticipated downtown San Marcos location in the former U.S. Post Office building no later than next March under an agreement approved this week by the city council.
On Tuesday, the council unanimously agreed to waive a city law that requires new restaurants in the central business district operate for six months before they can sell beer and wine and for a year before they can sell liquor.
The San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission must still approve Torchy’s application for a conditional use permit but the council’s action this week virtually ensures Torchy’s will be able to legally sell alcohol alongside its tacos a year before it otherwise could.
Torchy’s will hire six full-time managers with salaries of at least $40,000 a year and 62 servers, cooks and other workers at unspecified wages, according to the agreement.
The council has three times since 2011 granted variances to its conditional use permit rules in efforts to encourage investment in abandoned or deteriorated parts of downtown. In these cases, economic development officials say public benefits go beyond jobs created by the restaurant, the vast majority of which will be low-income positions of which San Marcos has a relative abundance.
“It’s huge. You have a federal building that is now going to be on the tax rolls and you have a vacant building that is going to be redeveloped and really bring a lot of energy to the whole area,” said Adriana Cruz, the Greater San Marcos Partnership’s president.
Occupying 4,000 interior square feet and a 1,300-square-foot patio, Torchy’s will anchor the redeveloped former post office which will be called Guadalupe Station. SportClips, Smoothie King and Jersy Mike’s Subs have committed to lease three additional spaces in the 17,987-square-foot building, according to a sales brochure distributed by The Weitzman Group, the property‘s leasing agent. About 2,400 square feet of the building has yet to be claimed, according to the document.
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I am pleased that something will happen in this building, and I am pleased the Council did not get in the way of a new business. What concerns me is that the Council hurries to relax a burdensome regulation for an out-of-town business with some name cache, but local entrepreneurs who want to put their money up and open their own shop get no similar consideration. If it is burdensome for the famous Torchy’s it is burdensome for anyone else, so just get rid of the stupid rule. Get out of the way of the free market.
It’s all part of the council’s long standing (and antiquated) efforts to “keep the square from turning into sixth street”…..the rules on CUPs are indeed ridiculous, overly burdensome, and a detriment to the economic development of our city.
Favoritism. If I were Headwaters I’d be contemplating a lawsuit. Get rid of the stupid rule. How can you build a business plan when your future is in the hands of fickle politicians.
Overpriced tacos. Just what low income people need right?
I don’t understand why the Church was up in arms over Headwaters, but completely silent on Torchy’s? Maybe they like tacos?
None of this makes sense. While I’m happy that Torchy’s is moving in — I was worried that the old post office would be yet another empty eyesore downtown — its impact on the church is likely to be equal to or greater than Headwaters would.
Meanwhile, an abandoned gas station continues its role as Permanent Eyesore on one of our major thoroughfares, and local entrepreneurs have yet another reason to think twice about starting a business in San Marcos.
Well, just so long as churchgoers can continue to cause a minor traffic jam as they swarm the HEB parking lot on Sunday mornings, then we’ll all be just fine.
I guess the city decided to “fast track” this so the church wouldn’t have time to pull out their torches and pitchforks.
Whatever the reasoning, it stinks. The local guy trying to do something gets the shaft, and then we bend over backwards to grant special treatment to the out-of-towners…..
We have a long, proud tradition of bending over for out of town interests.
I have seen the benefit of doing so in certain cases….but not this time – and not in too many instances in our recent history.