With the appointment Tuesday night of an ad hoc committee, Apalachicola took a first towards revising the city’s laws concerning when and where restaurants can serve alcoholic beverages.
In introducing the subject at the regular meeting, Mayor Van Johnson said the committee’s task would be to review existing laws found in ordinances approved in 1975 and 1991, particularly as they pertain to hours and scope of operation regarding serving alcohol on the city right-of-way, such as sidewalks.
“This is something that at present is illegal to do,” he said. “We need to bring these ordinances more up-to-date to match what’s going on in this community.”
Commissioner Jimmy Elliott opened by recommending two restaurateurs to the committee, Cassie Gary, who co-owns the Owl Café, Tap Room and Oyster City Brewing Company, and Danny Itzkovitz, who owns Tamara’s Café and the Tapas bar.
Commissioner Brenda Ash recommended Police Chief Bobby Varnes and Charles Elliott, who is married to the owner of the Up the Stairs restaurant, serve on the committee. Mitchell Bartley was absent, and Commissioner Frank Cook, while not making any nominations, offered his full support.
“I’m in favor of it. I think it’s something that needs to be done,” he said. “I think we should get a group together and make up what they feel is important.”
Johnson suggested that John Croom, owner of Q’s Corner Cocktail Lounge, and Apalachicola resident Beth Wright be named to serve.
Apalachicola business owner John Lee, a critic of late-night drinking outdoors in the downtown area and who last month had pushed for creation of the committee, was not placed on it.
Augusta West, director of Main Street, told commissioners that she would like to see representatives of both Main Street and the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce serve on the committee, and her name, and that of John Solomon, the chamber’s director, were added.
Ash asked that the committee’s membership be limited, and the commission voted unanimously to approve the nominations.
“The bigger the board, the more cumbersome it becomes and leads to a lack of productivity,” she said. “I would hope we could pull this board together and come back relatively quickly” with recommendations.
In response to a question by Apalachicola resident Uta Hardy, Johnson said the committee is tasked with reviewing ordinances #91-2 and #75-4, which govern where drinking is allowed on city property, as well as the hours establishments can operate.