Calling it an outdated law, a group of citizens is working to get a measure on the November ballot that would eliminate the need for private club permits, paving the way for liquor sales in Erath County.

Phil Greer, owner of Greer’s Ranch Cafe, is a member of “Citizens for Responsible Beverage Laws” and is helping to spearhead the effort to get the measure before voters this fall. 

“This would eliminate an outdated law in Erath County and help with economic growth,” Greer told the E-T. “There are companies and restaurants that won’t come to a dry county. This will allow residents to enjoy more choices in terms of restaurants, wine bars and other nice venues.”

Court Cole, owner of Bull Nettle, is also behind the effort.

“People always say they want more restaurants to open and I think (the private club permit) keeps franchises away,” Cole said.

The group published a notice of application in Saturday’s edition of the Empire-Tribune. 

“That was the first step in order for us to move forward,” Greer said. “We will now take that to the county and we will be issued petition sheets that we will take to registered voters in Erath County.”

The group will have 60 days to gather 4,000 signatures. When the signatures are verified the measure will be presented to Erath County commissioners, and if approved, will be placed before voters in November. 

Greer said eliminating private club permits will make it easier for restaurants to operate and cut down on costs. 

Cole said it will also end what he calls the “bookkeeping nightmare” that private clubs have to manage in order to serve alcohol. 

Ending private clubs would also mean patrons would no longer have to provide personal information to bars and restaurants when ordering an alcoholic beverage.

“Fifteen years ago doing that wasn’t a big deal, but now with all the security breaches a lot of people don’t want to hand out their personal information and I don’t blame them,” Cole said.   

Greer and Cole say if the measure passes, there will not be an influx of liquor stores opening in Stephenville. 

“This does not mean that liquor stores will begin popping up on every corner,” Greer said. “The city council would have to approve that.”   

The group hopes to gather the 4,000 signatures before summer. 

Residents will be able to sign the petition at Greer’s, Bull Nettle and other locations which will be announced soon. 

Only registered voters can sign the petition and the signature must match the one on their voter registration card.