A Not so Happy New Year for Dallas Breweries
The City of Dallas strikes again. Last week, Bishop Cider Co.'s Cidercade, Noble Rey, and Peticolas all received unexpected visits from the Dallas fire marshal and were forced to close their tap rooms (hopefully temporarily), update their fire safety measures, and re-apply for new certificates of occupancy (which can take months to obtain). The City claims that it's just a coincidence all three were shut down in a one-week span, and that the breweries in general aren't being targeted. But with all 3 closing in the same week, that just seems too unlikely. And why now? All of the affected breweries have had tap rooms operating in full swing for 1-2+ years when they got shut down by the City.
The problem is that the breweries were originally told by the City of Dallas inspections division that they had received the correct permits for having a brewery and taproom, and had all required fire-safety equipment in place. However, the fire marshal is now saying the certificates of occupancy they were issued were for brewing and storage, and that a taproom requires a special use permit and additional fire safety measures never mentioned by the City's property inspection division.
As is usually the case, there is no communication between various City of Dallas departments, resulting in different interpretations for the rules and lots of mistakes along the way. We live in a historic area of Dallas and have seen time and time again that the City approves building plans, then the project gets shut down 2/3 of the way through because the City approved the wrong thing. So one day, the City cracks down on builders, the next day it cracks down on breweries. There is ZERO accountability for the City on these issues, even though it costs developers hundreds of thousands, or sometimes even millions of development dollars to fix the City's mistakes. In this case, breweries will either have to spend tens of thousands of dollars retrofitting their spaces, or permanently shut their taprooms. Even if they can afford to retrofit, the lost revenue from tap room sales can be crippling. According to Noble Rey's founder Chris Rigoulot, it's not at all clear whether they can afford the retrofitting cost. Thanks to the City's general incompetence and lack of business-friendly attitude, owners often are forced to abandon ship and walk away because the financial burden is too great. The City's disorganization is hurting the Dallas economy badly.
The three brewery owners in question are trying to take steps to clarify exactly what needs to be done to get their taprooms up to code and permitted correctly, but the City isn't being helpful at all. Even the fire marshal admitted to Guidelive that he couldn't say exactly what was needed to get these breweries up to code--just that "something" had to be done. Basically, he came in (in two cases canceling New Years' parties), said the taprooms weren't in compliance, issued citations, and left. No accountability. No desire to work with these small business owners. Zero effs given. How shameful and ridiculous.
For the sake of all involved, we're hoping things can be sorted out quickly and that the owners can afford to make the necessary changes (if they can ever figure out what needs to be done). But for now, everything is up in the air, and for these small business owners, every day that goes by without taproom revenue could mean one step closer to closing their doors permanently.