Last semester’s TABC charges delay Pub opening
Willy’s Pub will remain closed for the first weeks of the semester as management begins to implement changes to improve its compliance with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission policy, according to an email from General Manager Emily Duffus.
The closure follows TABC’s first-ever undercover investigation and subsequent leveraging of charges against Pub in December, after infractions of underage drinking were observed at the last Pub Night of the year, according to TABC records.
Duffus, who took over as general manager this semester, said Pub management has not yet been notified of the consequences of TABC filing charges.
“We are still waiting to hear from TABC about the citations issued against Pub, so we aren’t sure of the implications yet,” Duffus, a McMurtry College junior, said.
Following the undercover investigation, TABC decided to issue two charges against Pub: one for selling alcohol to a minor and the other for permitting a minor to possess or consume alcohol on the premises.
Although multiple students claimed they were breathalyzed or saw breathalyzer tests occur the night of the undercover investigation, TABC official Chris Porter denied these claims. Pub management in December declined two requests for comment.
Multiple students reported seeing officers ticket students, which Porter confirmed. If convicted, the ticketed students would receive Class C misdemeanors and up to $500 in fines.
“We issued three citations for minors in possession to some of the individuals at the bar,” Porter said. “These folks were given their citations and released.”
Another student, whose identity has been anonymized to protect them from punishment, said they saw the officers standing outside of Pub for the majority of the night, occasionally entering Pub and walking around.
“I personally saw them go up to someone who was 21 and drinking a beer and they asked to see her ID,” he said. “A few minutes later they walked back in and it looked like they asked a student to step outside Pub, but I’m not sure if he was drinking or of age or anything about that.”
Typically, TABC conducts follow-up investigations following community complaints, according to Porter. According to TABC public records, multiple complaints have been filed against Pub in the past, including one in May for selling and serving to a minor, but none of those complaints resulted in TABC citing administrative violations.
Duffus declined to comment on the status of the legal proceedings in regards to the TABC charges, but said that management is actively working on implementing changes following the investigation.
“We are currently working with our staff to improve TABC compliance, but cannot comment on exactly what those changes will look like at this time.”
Editor’s Note: Part of this story was originally published online on Dec. 7, 2019 and has been updated for print.
More from The Rice Thresher
Rice’s Crisis Management Team plans to add a fourth and more rapid COVID-19 testing option on the Rice campus. Currently there are three sites that provide daily testing for asymptomatic students, staff and faculty who spend time on campus.
Rice Coffeehouse reopened its doors last Monday after shutting down in mid-March amid the pandemic, carrying out a soft reopening plan it has been shaping for months, according to Brendan Wong, the general manager of Coffeehouse.
Breaking its four-year tie with Cornell University, Rice University’s ranking tied with Washington University of St. Louis at No. 16 in the newly released U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best National Universities list, one place up from No. 17 last year.