Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bungalow Bistro Owner Explains Request for 4-Cop Incidental Wet Zoning

From Elizabeth:

Thank you for giving me the ability to explain our request. There have been several misconceptions as to what we are requesting including several misconceptions on the redeveloping and potential for future use of the property.

The request being made to Tampa City Council is for a 4-COP incidental wet zoning. The emphasis is on the "incidental."

Hotels often have this same type of wet zoning because it is incidental to the rental of rooms also including movie theaters, spas, bouquets, bowling alleys, tea rooms, jewelry stores, art galleries and other business where the sale and consumption is incidental to the business have this type of wet zoning.

Both businesses are proposed to be operated as a single entity still requiring the incidental provision to the wet zoning.

Will a 4-COP incidental allow for a package or liquor store? The answer is NO.

The sale of alcohol would have to be incidental to the nature of the other business a package store is a principal use for the sale of alcohol not incidental so it would not be allowed, as for the convenience store, a condition can be placed on the property to prohibit a convenience store. We would agree to such a condition.

Can the site be a bar or lounge? Again, the answer is NO.

The use of the site as a bar or lounge is a principle is for the sale of alcohol and would not be allowed.

I think you and most of the neighborhood know us by now, us people who are only trying to improve Seminole Heights for the present and in the future.

We would like to invite you and everyone to the Bistro on Sunday May 18, 2008 at 3:00pm to answer any questions or concerns.

We look forward to seeing you.
Elizabeth Graham


Lisa Randles said...

My name is Lisa Randles, and I am a resident of South Seminole Heights. Both my husband and I are excited to have Bungalow Bistro obtain the required permits and licensing to serve alcohol, giving the neighborhood a classy but not stuffy full service restaurant where we can feel comfortable to go on a week night or to bring visitors, right around the corner from where we live. I know that when the sale of alcohol permits some extra income, Elizabeth will have the ability to enhance the decor and make the atmosphere more cozy and stylish for our benefit. How wonderful is that? How fortunate we are to have local business people and not a faceless chain right in our neighborhood. They deserve our full support and thanks! Let's help them round out our neighborhood businesses. We are lucky to have them! I look forward to their success and a great neighborhood place to wine and dine.

Urban Eater said...

Well said Lisa. She will need our support this Tuesday (6-3) at 1:30PM at City Hall downtown. A few people are making it very difficult for her to obtain the proper zoning. City Hall needs to see that the neighborhood majority support The Bungalow Bistro.

Michelle Baker
Old Seminole Heights resident
Food Critic: New Heights Mag
Owner: Cooks & Company
Food Columnist: Tampa Tribune

Hamter said...

I live in OSH and although I haven't been to Bungalow Bistro, I hear that it is a wonderful place and a great addition to the area and I have no doubt on that front.

That being said; I also hear that there is another side to this story on permitting this special wet zoning/pkg take out, it is about folks who are not part of the Bistro business but are forced to be a part of it because they have homes that abut very near to the establishment who are some of our neighbors in S.H.

These folks knew they moved very near the commercial corridor and had to know what kind or type of business' zoning allowed. Now that zoning is being requested to change, it could change the immediate surrounding neighborhood lives as well. Just another side.

We have heard the owner's view and reason for wanting the passage of the 4-COP but there are others not being heard here and it could possibly be more than just a "few people making it difficult".

Next Tues could be a chance for everyone to hear and weigh in on both sides and find out if a compromise could be met to please everyone, especially those directly involved.

Mal Carne said...

There is an extremely double edged sword being tossed around right now. Neighbors are hoping to reach a compromise by limiting the hours of alcohol sales.

As a resident, I understand their concerns. As a business owner, I see a very slippery slope that the neighborhood is standing at the top of.

If restrictions are placed on operating hours, then there are two choices in the future:

1)Operating hours are reviewed on a case by case basis, which gives those businesses that don't currently have restrictions on hours(Rincon Catracho, Front Porch, San Carlos Tavern, Sangrias) an unfair business advantage by being able to operate for 3-4 hours longer than those businesses who do. Basically, it's madating restraint of trade.

2) All future wet zoning would have to abide by the same restrictions - an option that would make a restaurant owner seriously consider whether or not moving to this area is worth it, since they cannot operate during hours that existing businesses can.

Either way, I see this as a dangerous precedent.

I currently live within a 2-3 minute walk of 3 wet zoned properties(Rincon Catracho, San Carlos Tavern, Front Porch). My biggest quality of life issues? ABC Auto Sales and McNatt's Cleaners. I'll gladly take a neighborhood restaurant over those two choices.

Urban Eater said...

I mis-spoke the wet zoning date. It is Thursday, June 5th at 1:30PM at City Hall downtown.

Lisa Randles said...

I understand people's concern over possible noise issues with Bungalow Bistrow on Florida Avenue. It's a crap shoot anywhere you live, I live between North Blvd and Highland road, and have neighbors that have barking dogs and like to play loud music late into the night, as they talk at high volume.How lucky for me my bedroom is in the rear of my house, better to hear them. Have a short term "victory" by limiting a gourmet bistro's hours, and what might happen long term? They go out of business, and a used car lot with large, barking guard dogs moves on the property, or an establishment that attracts the young hip hop or dance music crowd. A homeowner that lives behind the carwash just north of Hillsborough on Florida Avenue told me she and her husband call the cops, sometimes up to 5 times a day, because people washing their cars blast their boom box stereo systems so loud their house windows shake. Maybe someone could open early in the morning and start using high pitched car or building equipment.
The patrons at Bungalow Bistro will probably be on the more mature side.
Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know.
Think about it.
That's all I'm saying.

Hamter said...

I didn't attend the city council meeting on this issue but I did catch part of it on the public access TV station. It sounded to me that the majority of the council members are willing to make a compromise with the neighbors concerns and accommodating the applicant/owner. Is that so bad? Isn't requesting a special permit for zoning/use change part of the issue? A final outcome that everyone can live with? With all due respect to you Mr. Mal Carne, you need to understand that folks who purchased a home and live right up to the Bistro did so knowing what the zoning limitations were when they purchased their property. Now that is being challenged and possibly changed. Don't those folks have a say in the matter? Both sides need to come to a compromise, it appears the council sees that as well.

Mal Carne said...

Hamter, the big sticking point on Council's compromise comes down to this:

To my knowledge, no other wet zoned properties in the area have a restriction placed on their hours. They have the right, should they choose to excercise it, to stay open until 3 am. Most choose not to, but they have no city mandate telling them that they can only operate within hours x through y.

It all comes down to equal application and enforcement for all businesses. Selective application will hurt us in the long run.

Hamter said...

Mal, I could be wrong to but I believe there is a difference in regards to this applicant and the other establishments you mentioned.

Does Rincon Catracho, Front Porch, San Carlos Tavern, Sangrias have any homes that are right next door to them? I understand there is one house where a bedroom window is just feet away from The Bistro as well as other homes being in very close proximity and mostly that is due to the inefficient parking buffer. I know The Front Porch and Sangrias' closest neighbor homes are not effected like those at The Bistro's location so therefore, I do believe the slippery slope is necessary for some "special circumstances" to have a case by case look for compromise.

I understand the logic of a business not having the same restrictions as another being unfair however it all comes down to location, location, location now doesn't it? If a restaurant chooses to be located right up against residential homes and the original zoning allowed certain restrictions well then the change in those restrictions being asked for after the fact should be considered with compromise be it hours of operation, type of wet zoning sales, music, noise levels, etc....

We all love The Bistro and don't want to discourage these type of new business' but those business' also need to be good neighbors to their very nearest one's as those with the 2-3 min walk away are not effected in the same way. Sometimes a selective application is necessary, not everything is exactly the same in the business/resident world.

Mal Carne said...

Actually, if we want to get down to splitting hairs, Rincon Catracho is closer to neighboring homes by 89 feet. (google earth)

I'm watching this closely, not as one might think, because of any fanboy nature for the Bistro, but rather the outcome shaping my opinion for opening my own restaurant. Should that day come, I would certainly have to think long and hard about opening in SH if I were to have restrictions placed on my hours of operation.

I fully expect that other restauranteurs would weigh that factor heavily, as well.

Hamter said...

For you and other potential Seminole Hgts restaurateurs I wish you luck and with that being said; pick your location very carefully.

Lisa Randles said...

Mal Carne:
I think you should pick your location very well too. Maybe you could interview the homeowners near your prospective location and see if they are receptive to an upscale bistro near their home. They may not, and may prefer a used car lot with night guard dogs, or a pawn shop, or a fireworks sales company. Maybe a cuban sandwich joint.
If thats their preference, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy trying to open your business and obtain a license to serve wine and alcoholic beverages with your cuisine.
Good luck and hopefully you will find the right location with neighbors that are excited to have you within a short walk from home!

Hamter said...

That's right Lisa, it would be wise for any potential business owner to do their homework up front if considering a location right up against and living close amongst residential neighbors. Especially if that business owner has different plans than what the current zoning allows. As you said, it could save a lot of time and energy later and may not work out in the end anyway. Just sound advise and unfortunately was not the path taken by The Bistro but well watched as Mal mentioned and hopefully a lesson learned too.

Lisa Randles said...

Just a musing:
Can you imagine an ancient Roman's disbelief if you told him the complex difficulty in getting a glass of wine with your bread 2 thousand years into the future?
Makes you wonder about whether time progressing is really progress.
I guess I'm just showing my age, but a neighborhood bistro a couple blocks from home that serves me wine or a couple drinks with my meal, or is a cozy and 2 minute drive from the house to go to after an early dinner and movie for a late night drink and light tapas snack, conversation and a quick drive home sounds so good, it never would if it was a loud boisterous place. I guess I picture the place being a laid back, 30s to 60s kind of place, away from the noise of Ybor. I'm 46,I like to hear the person's conversation that is with me without straining to hear over music. Wouldn't most everyone in that age group be the same, or am I just old before my time. I'm way over shouting over music to be heard. I hope they can hold out long enough to get any kind of alcohol license, for the income to survive, I know it's been hard. I think it will be fine, the people will be mostly our neighbors "of a certain age", letting the rowdy 20 somethings go downtown. What do you guys really think will be the clientele, when it comes down to it?