Smaller Orlando restaurants could serve alcohol under Rene Plasencia’s bill


Smaller restaurants in Orlando’s historic urban business centers may find it easier to obtain government licenses to serve alcohol under a Rep. Rene Plasencia.

His proposal aims to give some wiggle room to restaurants opening in older, smaller business premises in some of the city’s more historic buildings. Such facilities sometimes do not meet the minimum sizes required by the state to qualify for liquor licenses.

On Monday, the bill, which has yet to be numbered, was endorsed by the Orange County Legislative Delegation during a virtual meeting on Zoom.

“Many of these old buildings are being renovated and converted into restaurants. … These buildings are older; They are smaller. We want the law to match the needs, history and architecture of these areas, ”said Plasencia, a Republican from Orlando.

The city of Orlando supports the measure, said Kyle Shephard, the city’s director of interstate relations.

Under current law, restaurants must be at least 2,500 square feet and occupy at least 150 people in order to be granted a license. Plasencia’s bill would reduce those minimums to 1,800 square feet and 80 people in the historic Orlando business districts.

The bill applies specifically to restaurants in College Park, Audubon Park, Ivanhoe Village, Milk District, Mills-50 District, and Gateway Orlando District.

A similar provision already exists for downtown Orlando, approved in a local bill sponsored by the then Republican representative. Mike Miller in 2015.

The next question asked by the Orlando Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy: Is the list enough or representative enough?

Neighborhoods listed include most of the city’s hot urban trading hubs outside of the downtown area. However, they’re mostly on the east side of Orlando, surrounded by mostly white or Hispanic neighborhoods. McCurdy suggested the need for such options for business districts on the west side of Orlando, many of them in his legislative district. The west side of Orlando has the largest black communities in the city.

“You made a great point,” replied Plasencia.

“Let’s work together. Let’s see if we can add if it’s one of the areas of your district or if you see multiple areas that can be added,” said Plasencia.

Democratic MP. Anna V. Eskamani, whose legislative district includes most of the business districts named in the bill, offered their support for McCurdy’s request.

“I know our small businesses in Orlando City are asking for it. And in the context of COVID-19, we should do everything possible to make their lives easier while emphasizing the safety of all types of alcohol consumption, ”she said. “As we know, some of the problems we had with COVID-19 in Orlando were with the bars.”

The Orange County delegation voted 9-0 in support of the law. Linda Stewart and representatives. Kamia Brown and Geraldine Thompsonall Democrats absent.

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Janet Smith