Until 2018, businesses such as brewpubs, breweries, wineries and distilleries were not allowed to operate within city limits due to city ordinances restricting alcohol sales.
In the years since, those businesses have begun to make an appearance across the city with three breweries slated to open in 2023 and 2024.
The first major step toward allowing alcohol-centric businesses was made when Frisco City Council amended the city’s zoning ordinance to allow brewpubs to operate in nonresidential zoning districts in August 2018.
“Food and beverage are becoming entertainment,” then-Council Member Will Sowell said at the August 2018 meeting. “In today's society, the ability to provide locations like this tend to amount to providing entertainment. And we've seen that just across the street in some of our neighboring cities.”
Unlike a brewery or a growler bar, there are some restrictions on the amount of alcohol, malt liquor or ale manufactured and distributed at a brewpub, according to a presentation at the 2018 meeting.
“I think it's fantastic that we're starting to allow innovation and entertainment just like this,” Sowell said.
Approximately one year after allowing brewpubs, city officials released data from a three-year study that concluded one of the main reasons residents leave was to go to the breweries absent in Frisco.
Taking the study into account, separate ordinances to allow breweries, wineries and distilleries in the Original Town Commercial District, the Highway District and Industrial District followed in 2020.
“The brewpub was one of the top things on the [Visit Frisco study] list that was identified as people [were] going to McKinney and surrounding cities looking for this type of experience,” Cheney said at the 2020 meeting. “Those types [of businesses] were not allowed before this ordinance was crafted. So this will allow us to go out and recruit those types of things.”
At an April 2023 meeting, commission members recommended council approve rezoning the Frisco Station region, an area of Frisco adjacent to The Star, to line up with the same ordinances passed in 2018 and 2020. Council ultimately agreed and updated the ordinances at an April 4 meeting.
Until the updates, Frisco Station had been following a 2015 ordinance that restricted any alcohol sales, which hurt incoming businesses in the Frisco Station area, according to presentations at the meeting.
Despite the relaxed alcohol zoning laws, alcohol-only sales in Frisco are not found everywhere.
An attempt by local soccer complex Performance Indoor Training to begin selling its own alcohol instead of allowing guests and players to bring their own was turned down by Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission members in April, for its proximity to churches, residential areas and schools.
Commission members at the meeting stated allowing alcohol sales did not “fit” in the area. Frisco officials have also stressed at meetings that while updated ordinances allow businesses such as breweries to open, they still need to follow Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulations.
In the years following the original 2018 and 2020 ordinance changes, a handful of brewpubs have begun operating throughout the city, and multiple breweries have announced plans to open.
In 2021, Frisco City Council approved an agreement with Rollertown Beerworks, a brewery, restaurant and music venue expected to open near the silos in 2024 and bring in new money to the downtown area. Frisco Brewing Co. is another brewery and entertainment mix planned for Frisco expected to open this summer, according to a 2022 update.
The most recent Frisco-based brewery plans were announced in March when council members approved plans for Three Empires Brewing Co. to open and operate in the downtown’s historic Ford Building by this summer.