The owner of Ray's Drive-In on Timberland and Ray's West on Loop 287 in Lufkin is hoping the addition of beer to the menu will help improve business.
"Honestly, we're operating in a tough economic climate and we're looking for ways to attract new business and at the same time continue to keep our traditional base," said Lawana Ray, owner.
Ray's Drive-In opened in 1959. The late Jerry Ray and his wife, Lawana, bought the business in 1996. "Serving beer at the café is something that Jerry and I talked about for years. I feel now is the time to try and make that happen." Jerry Ray passed away earlier this year.
Ray says she first filed her liquor application in late July. She says she had been told the entire application process takes about 30 days. "We've cleared the state comptroller's office. The application is now with the city secretary's office. They have to make sure we're in compliance with proper zoning and other city regulations. Then it'll go to the county for consideration and eventually our application will have to be approved by the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission."
Ray says it is a sign of the times and the liquor permit is just one of many ideas they are considering to help the restaurant remain competitive. "I'm just trying to stand my ground and find my niche in this very competitive environment. In this new era." Ray says other changes customers can look for include some new menu items. "We're trying some new burger recipes, but don't worry there will be no changes to our traditional menu items like the 'Ray's Special."
If approved, the permit would restrict the sale of beer to dining room patrons only. Once the liquor application clears all hurdles, Ray says they will have to post a notice to customers and that notice has to be up for at least 60 days. "The earliest I expect we might be able to serve beer is October."
In the meantime, Ray says in the very near future they will begin offering senior citizen and college discounts. She says they are in the process of converting the cash registers to handle the new transactions. She is also working on holding a 'bikers night' in an effort to attract new business. "We're trying to implement new ideas that will update our business and keep us competitive while preserving its legacy."