GOLIAD – There’s about to be a new game in town, as the voters of Goliad overwhelmingly approved a proposition to allow charitable bingo to be played within the city limits.
In the Nov. 3 election, 628 people cast ballots in favor of charitable bingo, with 116 voting against the measure.
“It really is good news for Goliad,” said John Kolb, owner of Empresario Charitable Bingo located at the former Empresario restaurant location at 141 S. Courthouse Square. “We’re going to be able to create something that will benefit local charities and will not be for our own economic benefit.
“It will also provide entertainment and a place for food and drinks on our beautiful courthouse square.”
Bingo operations are limited to three days a week in which they can be open, and Kolb said the Empresario will initially be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Saturdays.
“If the demand is there, and people come out and support it, we eventually plan to be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That would be the limit that we could be open under state regulations.”
If all goes according to plan, Kolb said, Empresario Charitable Bingo would open sometime in December.
“We cannot file our application with the Texas Bingo Commission until (Nov. 10),” he said. “We have to get the city to sign the application and then get the county to join in for record purposes. Then the application will be sent to Austin, and the bingo commission has to investigate ownership of the building and begin the approval process.
“We hope to open as soon as possible.”
City leaders have already voiced their support for the bingo hall at a Goliad City Council meeting in late July.
Kolb said people who come to the bingo hall will see a first class operation.
“We have got a beautiful building that was built in 1903 and has been remodeled from floor to ceiling, and we wanted to utilize it,” Kolb said.
The restaurant he operated there closed during the spring when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in widespread closures nationwide, but Kolb said the plan was to eventually reopen in a different format.
“I went to Victoria to take a look at their bingo operation, and I thought we could do an even better job here in Goliad,” he said.
“Another big motive is to support our community. We’ve been very active in supporting Goliad schools and scholarship programs, and I wanted to provide funds for scholarships for Goliad students and also in Sinton where my father was in business.
“We want to help support the Goliad Education Foundation as well.”
Other potential charities Kolb said he would like to support with proceeds from the bingo hall include the local animal shelter and the area food bank.
“Later on, there could also be others, such as La Bahia,” he said.
In an area in the back of the historic building snacks, soups and sandwiches will be served during lunchtime bingo games with an expanded menu for dinner, Kolb said.
Feedback from community members has strongly supported the idea of charity bingo at the Empresario, he said.
“Everything I’ve heard has been positive, from the chamber of commerce to Main Street Goliad and people in the community,” he said.
“The main thing is we’re looking forward to being able to raise enough money to have substantial fundraising for our charities. It will also be a place for people to come and enjoy bingo and to have lunch and dinner at the same time.”