Bars in Austin – and throughout Texas – had a strong 2015, bringing in millions more in revenue than the previous year, according to an American-Statesman analysis of state data.
In Austin, sales of beer, wine and mixed drinks hit $663.5 million last year. That’s up 9.7 percent from 2014.
The statewide figure for 2015 was just shy of $6 billion, a year-over-year increase of 6 percent.
There are several factors that likely contributed to the sales growth in some form or fashion, according to owners and managers at Austin-area bars, restaurants and hotels. Those include the region’s population growth, increases in tourism and more demand for higher-end drinks.
Most in the industry said they don’t expect those trends to slow down in 2016, either.
“At Ranch 616, we saw double-digit growth in alcohol sales for 2015,” said Kevin Williamson, owner of the restaurant at 616 Nueces St. in downtown Austin. “Our customers continue to enjoy our signature drinks, in particular, making tequila our most popular spirit.”
For most of 2015, the new JW Marriott convention hotel, 110 E. Second St., was the Austin business with the highest bar receipts. That was the case in December, as well, state figures show, with bartenders there pouring $699,678.96 worth of booze last month.
The addition of the 1,012-room JW Marriott in February, as well as several other hotels in downtown and elsewhere throughout the region last year, is helping Austin to attract large, lucrative conventions it hasn’t previously been able to land.
Another convention hotel, the 1,066-room Fairmont Austin, is currently under construction and expected to open in 2017. When it debuts, it will unseat the JW Marriott to become Austin’s largest hotel.
“Visitors to Austin, both for business and leisure, have significantly increased year over year, as have the number of jobs and economic impact that the tourism industry provides,” said Bob Lander, president and CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “These visitors contribute to our tax base, saving each of us money annually, have enabled our hotel sector to flourish, and provide an additional revenue stream to local businesses and attractions.
“The increase has also allowed us to become a premier destination for meetings and conventions. The number of group meetings that we facilitated increased from 643 in 2014 to 713 in 2015. One of our most prevalent current barriers to continuing this growth is limited space and availability in the convention center.”
City leaders have received a master plan proposing an enlarged convention center, but haven’t give a final signoff yet on any expansion plans.
Austin’s No. 2 alcohol seller in December, behind the JW Marriott, was the Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St., coming in at $476,610. It was followed by Emo’s East, 2015 E. Riverside Drive, with $472,922.99.
The rest of Austin’s top 10 list for December includes:
- Top Golf, 2700 Esperanza Crossing, $470,622.99
- W Hotel Austin, 200 Lavaca St., $458,831.94
- Punch Bowl Social, 11310 Domain Drive, $455,520.90
- Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar Blvd., $433,454.93
- Chupacabra Cantina, 400 E. Sixth St., $406,761.94
- Four Seasons Hotel Austin, 98 San Jacinto Blvd., $390,226.87
- Perfect 10 Men’s Club, 16511 Bratton Lane, $348,790
December’s top sellers* in other Central Texas communities were:
- Bastrop: Chili’s, 734 W. Texas 71, $41,864.93
- Bee Cave: Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Hotel, 12525 Bee Cave Pkwy., $79,796.87
- Buda: Pinballz Kingdom, 15201 S. Interstate 35, $36,930.90
- Cedar Park: Wild West, 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., $113,591.94
- Dripping Springs: Trudy’s Four Star, 13059 Four Star Blvd., $60,042.99
- Georgetown: El Monumento, 205 W. Second St., $79,810.90
- Kyle: Evo Entertainment, 3200 Kyle Crossing, $73,103.88
- Lago Vista: Copperhead Grill, 6115 Lohmans Ford Road, $15,080.90
- Lakeway: The Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen, 3001 S. RM 620, $94,145.97
- Leander: Brooklyn Heights Pizzeria, 3550 Lakeline Blvd., $59,646.87
- Liberty Hill: Jardin Corona, 15395 W. Texas 29, $28,757.91
- Pflugerville: Mavericks, 1700 Grand Avenue Pkwy., $133,388.96
- Round Rock: Third Base, 3107 S. I-35, $155,021.94
- San Marcos: Zelicks, 336 W. Hopkins St., $110,935.97
- Spicewood: Angel’s Icehouse, 21815 W. Texas 71, $31,798.96
- Sunset Valley: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, 5207 Brodie Lane, $85,140.90
- West Lake Hills: Lupe Tortilla, 701 S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), $82,231.94
*Addresses are listed as reported in records from the state comptroller’s office, but might not reflect the jurisdictions that receive tax revenue from each business’ sales of alcoholic beverages.