Leander Liquors

Repeat customers gain rapport with owner

T'is the season to celebrate, so naturally business picks up this time each year at Leander Liquors.

Sales typically increase by two-thirds during the holidays, owner Peter Chiu said. Fortunately, he is prepared for the boost, stocking up on the most-purchased items during last Christmas season.

And much of that increased business comes from Chiu's regular customers, who he knows by name and vice versa. Routine customer or not, Chiu said he strives to help find a selection that caters to each person's personal preferences.

"My customers really appreciate the service because when they go to the bigger stores, the people there don't have time to answer any questions," Chiu said. "Even if they do, the customers have to wait. They'd rather come somewhere where the owner can see you personally."

Many customers go out of the way, Chiu said, to frequent the US 183 establishment. They appreciate his ability to help stretch their money while on a budget, he said.

The best customers are repeat customers, Chiu said, which is why he works with patrons to ensure their safety each visit.

"At a party, size does matter, so bring only enough to have fun," he said. "I sometimes suggest just enough for the night so they'll be OK to still get back home."

Chiu, a Taiwan native and Cedar Park resident since 2002, previously worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years. He took over Leander Liquors in 2009 upon a recommendation that he purchase an existing liquor store rather than open anew.

As the vendor for more than 11,000 bottles of booze, Chiu has taken his role as top recommender seriously by becoming a bit of an alcohol aficionado. His personal favorites are scotch whisky and bourbon whisky.

But he doesn't drink on the job, he said. Instead, that's the reward once Leander Liquors closes for the day.

"I'm not really focused on selling as much as I can to make profit because I'm just a neighborhood shop," Chiu said. "I'm not going to get rich doing this. I'm just trying to make a living."

Mexican Hot Chocolate

This holiday beverage recommended by Leander Liquors owner Peter Chiu features spiced hot chocolate and ice cream dusted with chili powder—a fitting Tex-Mex treat this Christmas.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon instant expresso
  • 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chili powder

Directions:

  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and add it to the boiling water.
  • Add sugar, cinnamon, espresso and salt. Simmer for one minute and add bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until thick.
  • Add milk and simmer one minute. Serve immediately with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of chili powder on top.

Notes:

Make beverage ahead of time and reheat. Make sure to either whisk or blend lightly in blender to make beverage light and foamy before serving. Serves four.

Leander Liquors, 2403 S. US 183, Ste. 101, Leander, 512-259-8404

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.