Townspeople say booze will bring more business

By Tyana Williams - bio | email

WALKER, LA (WAFB) - The town of Walker may not be dry when it comes to alcohol, but some residents say they are a little parched. Ten years ago, Walker adopted an ordinance not to sell any drinks that have more than six percent alcohol. One group says it's time to relax the rules in order to attract more businesses.

Los Sombreros and LaFleur's are the only two sit-down dining choices inside Walker's limits. At Los Sombreros, the popular drink is sweet tea. By law, liquor cannot be served in either restaurant. Tommy Stojak, manager at Los Sombreros, said he's accustomed to customers just eating at his establishment and going elsewhere to drink. Behind the bar, the refrigerator is stocked, but with wine coolers.

"You sit them down and they say they want a margarita," Stojak said. "We tell them we don't have a margarita. They just leave."

The law in Walker prohibits restaurants and even grocery stores from selling beverages above six percent alcohol. Randy LeBlanc, the co-owner of LeBlanc's Food Stores, said he has heard comments about the town being "behind the times."

"Every day, people come in with the intent of purchasing wines and spirits and running into a situation where we are not allowed by law to sell it," LeBLanc said.

A group called "Help Walker Grow" says it's time to update the 10-year-old ordinance to allow more restaurants to move in. Members say not only will that give more choice in where to dine, but will also create jobs. They also believe it would give Walker more income. Ivy Howze has lived in Walker for 70 years and said he is ready for a change.

"Within one mile to east, one mile to west, 1.5 to the north, 1.5 to the south people can go there and get their alcohol," Howze said. "We are losing thousands of dollars a year economic benefit."

The group is handing out a petition to allow a change in the alcohol act. Like the name states, supporters believe it's the biggest way to help Walker grow. They need 25 percent of the registered voters in Walker to sign the petition to allow the people to vote in November. They also say they do not want bar rooms, just more dining choices so the money stays in the community.

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