Eskimo Hut vote exposes city’s stance on small business
This past Tuesday, our Planning and Zoning Commission, DENIED a small business owner seeking to open a convenience store. It was in an appropriately zoned location in an area of substantial retail activity including a liquor store, a gas station, a fastfood sandwich shop, a pizza place and in close-proximity a multi-story student residential property. The outcome was yet another unfriendly business action on the part of our city staff and our Planning and Zoning Commission.
The applicant, an Eskimo Hut franchisee, was requesting to install a drive-through in an existing building that had been built back in 2010 to accommodate a drive-through. Had the business chosen to open a liquor store or a convenience store without a drivethrough, no approval would have been required. The addition of the drive through however, is part of the business model of Eskimo Hut, a business model that has seen two other locations in our city in the past.
Eskimo Hut sells TABC legal drinks prepared on site and then sealed in packaging for off-premise consumption. This is the same as going to The Yellow Store, buying a single cold beer, and then opening it off-site. The applicant informed the commissioners that they would not be serving any product for on-premise consumption and that this limitation could be a made condition of their approval.
This business request was simple. The young man, a veteran, and his wife wanted to open a convenience store in a bustling area of retail and have a drive through to provide convenience to customers. They wanted to serve a variety of products you can get in most any convenience store, including a perfectly legal drink made on site and sold in a sealed container.
This is a business model that had been employed in our community for years by Eskimo Hut franchisees and currently, without the proprietary product offered by Eskimo Hut, by The Yellow Store. It’s also now becoming a popular delivery model at other stores like HEB and Walmart. Eskimo Hut operates 31 similar locations throughout the State of Texas. Small business owners independently operate most.
In my opinion, this type of action on the part of our city staff and the unwillingness of our appointed commissioners to try and find ways to accommodate but instead to flatly DENY this young man and his wife the opportunity to invest in our community is an indication of how anti-business our city has become.
Our City Council must live up to the “Supporting Small Business” mantra they claim when running for office. Please join us and contact them directly at CouncilMembers@sanmarcostx. gov and ask them to overturn this denial when it is placed their next agenda. They must also appoint P&Z members who will consider the importance of small businesses to our local economy in the future. We citizens must wake up and realize that these tax-paying small businesses employ our citizens, help support other local businesses, and are the only thing that keeps our local property taxes from sky-rocketing.
Vic P Patel