Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How late is last call in South Florida hotspots?

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Johnny Diaz
Contact ReporterStaff writer

It may be last call for pre-dawn drinking at Ocean Drive bars like Mango’s Tropical Cafe and The Clevelander.
Miami Beach residents will vote today on whether to stop alcohol sales on Ocean Drive at 2 a.m.

If approved, all Ocean Drive establishments except indoor portions of bars that are completely enclosed and inside hotels, would change the current 5 a.m. cut-off time to 2 a.m. The measure affects Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th streets. Bars on other Miami Beach streets such as Washington and Collins avenues could stay open until 5 a.m.
The proposed change comes amid some high profile crimes including a fatal shooting that began over a parking space argument in South Beach during Memorial Day weekend this year. City commissioners also voted Oct. 18 to close the beach east of the sand dunes at 10 p.m. instead of midnight to reduce violent crimes on the beach and to protect sea turtles.

Other South Florida cities with popular entertainment strips already shut the taps at 2 a.m. Here’s a primer on how late last call is called in some other cities:
HollywoodThe city is home to the bustling Broadwalk where tourists and spirited Parrotheads (thanks to the new Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort) stroll and sip drinks while accompanied by the ocean breeze. The city allows allows businesses to sell alcohol in restaurants and bars until 2:00 a.m. But a business may apply for what’s known as an extended hours license that allows them to sell alcohol in their restaurants until 4:00 a.m, said Raelin Storey, Hollywood's public affairs and marketing director. She noted that there are few establishments on Hollywood Beach that have this license. One of them is Nick’s Bar and Grill.
Fort Lauderdale: It’s called Fort Liquordale for a reason. Broward’s largest city allows bars in two entertainment districts — the beach and Himmarshee Village on Southwest Second Street — to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.
Boca Raton: Earlier this year, Boca city council members passed a 2 a.m. curfew on alcohol sales after residents complained about noise and crime. The enforcement affected two clubs (Blue Martini and Nippers) near Town Center at Boca Raton that were part of a land annexation in 2003 and were allowed to serve alcohol until 5 a.m.

Delray Beach: The city’s Atlantic Avenue has shoulder-to-shoulder bars and restaurants and a lively nightlife that spills onto South Ocean Boulevard across the beach. Delray Beach limits alcohol sales within city limits to 2 a.m.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Orlando asks lawmakers to ease rules on liquor licensing

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Orlando asks lawmakers to ease rules on liquor licensing

by: Michael Lopardi Updated: 
ORLANDO, Fla. - There's a new push to bring more small eateries into downtown Orlando. 
The city will ask lawmakers for an exemption to allow small restaurants to serve liquor. 
The practice is already in place in other Florida cities and supporters say it could be a game-changer for downtown.
Many smaller restaurants only serve beer and wine, but the city hopes changing the rule would encourage more establishments to open up in Orlando. 
Maxine Earhart, the owner of Maxine’s on Shine, said being able to serve liquor could help her business. 
“We’ll make a little more money because we can be more competitive,” she said. 
The city is asking Florida lawmakers to reduce the size limits for a restaurant in the downtown area to obtain a liquor license from 2,500 square feet to 1,800 square feet, and lower the minimum serving capacity from 150 customers to 80.
“It allows a small restaurant like mine to compete with bigger places,” said Earhart. 
Without the change, small restaurants could still obtain a liquor license, but the cost would be much higher.
“It's very exciting and it's a potential game-changer for downtown,” said restaurant critic Scott Joseph. 
Joseph sat on a city task force that recommended the change. 
He said alcohol can play a big role in deciding where customers dine.
“A lot of people don't want just beer and wine. They want to have their special cocktail,” Joseph said. 
Similar exemptions have been approved for parts of Jacksonville and St. Petersburg.
“I'm excited. I think it's going to change the whole downtown area,” said Earhart.
But first, lawmakers will have to decide whether the restaurants can expand their drink menu.
Rep. Mike Miller said he plans to file a bill to make the change happen in time for the upcoming legislative session.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Booze from Vending Machines?

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Booze from vending machines? No way, beer and liquor groups say

Beer distributors and independent liquor stores are lining up to oppose a proposal for high-tech beer and wine vending machines in South Florida.
The Beer Industry of Florida, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, and the Florida Independent Spirits Association filed separate motions to intervene in the case last Thursday.
A newly-formed Miami-Dade company is seeking an OK from the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to install what it calls “self-checkout micro marts” with wine and beer.
La Galere Markets of Coral Gables asked regulators for a declaratory statement that the machines would be legal under existing law and regulations.
In their filing, the beer distributors say the company is seeking to sell “alcoholic beverages through ‘self-checkout’ procedures with no human being present on the licensed premises.”
La Galere intends to place the micro marts “in residential condominium developments in several Florida locations,” its original filing says. The machines would also sell food, including sandwiches and snacks, but the company does not have a liquor license.
Condo residents would have to go through “checkpoints” to get to the machines, including building security, and use their fingerprints to buy any alcoholic beverage.
Scanned prints would be in a “pre-approved” database, and the machines would be monitored at all times by surveillance cameras.
That’s a non-starter, the beer concerns say: “A determination that sales of alcoholic beverages may be made by a vendor completely in the absence of any (on-site) human supervision is the type of decision that should be made by the Legislature, not by the Division.”
Allowing the La Galere proposal “would open the door to other technological supervisory schemes that may not be as sophisticated,” their filing says.
“In other words, it’s a slippery slope that could lead to other concepts … such as the purchase of beer and wine from a manufacturer’s or distributor’s warehouse location that is supervised only through technology,” it adds.
But La Galere already has argued that the state now allows hotel mini-bars in rooms, “which have no employee supervision and generally lack anything other than superficial age verification,” that filing says.
The beer interests are represented by Donna Blanton, an attorney with Tallahassee’s Radey Law Firm and a former Tallahassee bureau chief for The Orlando Sentinel. The liquor store group is represented by lawyers Dan Russell and Marc Dunbar of Jones Walker‘s Tallahassee office.
An administrative hearing in the matter has not yet been scheduled.