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Texas town serves as six-pack central of the plains.

Texas town serves as six-pack central of the plains

Five minutes after quitting time, five days a week, cars and trucks start lining up outside Ybanez Beer Store--Six-Pack Central for thousands of West Texans.

On weekend nights it's even busier, red tail lights flashing like bulbs on a casino sign as vehicles inch along a serpentine lane leading to two mobile homes that house the beer store. Often the line winds out past the city limits. But that doesn't require many thirsty customers.

The city of Los Ybanez has all of 85 acres. It has 150 people and one industry: the beer store. It's the only place to buy a six pack in 44 miles.

Dawson County is dry and so are the surrounding five counties.

"Without us, people have to drive 100 miles to (and from) Lubbock; it's 80 to 100 miles to buy liquor in Hobbs (New Mexico) or Big Spring," said Mary Ybanez, who founded the city with her husband, Israel, six years ago. "Before we opened, people had to drive 100 miles for a six-pack of beer, and that doesn't make sense."

It made sense to the Ybanezes to found a wet town in a dry county. In 1980 they bought an abandoned migrant-workers camp a few miles outside the cotton and oil center of Lamesa, population 12,000.

Three years later they incorporated the camp as a town, named it after themselves, brought in 150 residents and voted the town open to sales of packaged alcoholic beverages.

Until then, Lamesa residents had faced a long drive to the liquor store. Lamesa has 25 churches, one Alcoholics Anonymous chapter and no legal alcohol sales except by the drink at Lamesa Country Club's bar, open only to members and their guests.

People who don't belong to the country club or who want to drink at home drive about two miles to Los Ybanez, where they buy beer and wine and drive away.

Rowdyism is rare, said Los Ybanez resident Brenda Ramirez, who said she moved to the town because of the peace and quiet. Her friend, Maria Consuelo Vargas, lives in Los Ybanez for the same reason.

"I wouldn't want to live in Lamesa--it's too noisy," she said.

Even an early opponent of granting a liquor license to the Ybanezes said the place has been quieter than he expected. John Dell Barron, who lives about a mile away, unsuccessfully opposed the license application because he morally disapproves of drinking and he feared traffic problems and noise would get out of hand.

"It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be," Barron said. "I really wasn't for beer. `Course, we had the country club here and I didn't like that either."

Dawson County allows only private clubs to serve alcohol, unless a city approves off-premises or by-the-drink liquor sales in a local option election.

The idea of incorporating a city and holding a local option election was conceived by Israel Ybanez. In 1980, Ybanez learned the Dawson County Farm Labor Association was seeking bids for an abandoned migrant-worker camp that had been built in 1941. The Ybanezes put in a high bid of $85,000 for the 85-acre site and its 75 clapboard houses.
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Title Annotation:Los Ybanez
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Dec 11, 1989
Words:538
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