The rebound from the pandemic recession that gained momentum through 2022, coupled with inflation, led to one of the busiest years yet for El Paso bars and venues.
There were 612 El Paso bars, restaurants and venues that paid nearly $215 million in mixed beverage sales taxes in 2022, not including the month of December. The amount is $15 million more than in 2021, and a whopping $84 million more than in 2019, the pre-pandemic year.
“It was a good, hard year coming out from 2021 and 2020 and COVID,” said David Cordero, the general manager on duty at Gringo Theory bar in Far East El Paso. “Among other things, we were able to just keep up our high standards. We had consistency throughout the year.”
Mixed beverage gross receipts, collected by the Texas Comptroller, are at 6.7%. They don’t include food sales but are a good indicator of performance throughout the year and are watched closely by the area’s competitive bar and restaurant owners.
The top spot in El Paso in 2022 was taken by Hotel Paso del Norte in Downtown. The historic hotel houses several venues, including a couple of restaurants, the Dome Bar and ballrooms. It reopened in 2020 after a multimillion-dollar renovation.
Designed by famed southwest architect Henry Trost, the hotel originally opened in 1912 and is now part of the Autograph Collection portfolio from Marriott.
“We really upgraded and focused on entertainment,” said Todd Rodemyer, director of food and beverage at Hotel Paso del Norte. “We have entertainment Tuesday through Saturday in the Dome Bar. There’s a DJ in Mirador on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I think that’s helped a lot”
The hotel was one of three Downtown establishments in the top 10 list of 2022. Others were the ballpark and Café Central.
“These numbers, if you go back, are exceeding pre-pandemic numbers. That aspect of our Downtown redevelopment is extremely strong with the potential to continue growing,” said Joe Gudenrath, executive director of the El Paso Downtown Management District.
“Over the years, we’ve seen more and more growth and investment in food and beverage establishments. The increasing quantity has increased the amount of consumption.”
Gudenrath said the Downtown area still has a smaller number of establishments than similar emerging downtowns, including in Tucson and Sacramento.
There are about 60 establishments in the 79901 ZIP code, which includes Downtown.
The top 10 list in 2022 was a mix of usual places and newcomers. Showtyme Sports Grill, the spot opened by El Pasoan and Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, climbed to No. 9 in its first year in operation. Showtyme opened in March.
Other El Paso favorites, including Ojos Locos Sports Cantina and Topgolf, made the top 10 list once more.
The highest-selling month was April, when bars, restaurants and other venues paid nearly $21 million in mixed beverage gross receipts.
The Texas Comptroller data also shows which parts of town are seeing the strongest bar and restaurant activity. Establishments in Far East’s 79936 ZIP code paid the most in gross receipts, at $41.3 million. In East-Central, bars and restaurants in the 79925 ZIP code paid $36.8 million.
The 79936 ZIP code is home to the most number of bars and venues that serve liquor, beer and wine: 107. And there are 85 in 79925.
The Westside’s 79912 ZIP code is home to 68 bars and venues, which paid a total of $21.2 million in 2022.
The data from the Texas Comptroller does not include liquor store or grocery store beer and wine sales.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Sara Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 915-534-4422.
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