Neighborhood, Gourmet Donut Shop Seeks Beer and Wine License

I’m currently working on a fun project.

My client, Glazed Donuts, is gourmet, artisan donut shop in Key West, Florida, seeking a Florida Beer & Wine Consumption on Premises License in order to sell mimosas, bellinis, and other wine-based speciality drinks and seasonal craft beer that compliment the flavor profiles of their donuts.  Some may surprised to hear of a donut shop seeking to sell beer and wine, but it can’t be too different than Starbucks doing the same.  And, really, isn’t it just another illustration of the creativity of restauranteurs and their impact on our culture?

Normally, the process of a getting a State of Florida Beer and Wine Consumption on Premises License would be rather simple: you’d merely apply for a license from the State.  But, in this case, there’s a snag.

Glazed Donuts is located within 300 feet of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the City of Key West’s Municipal Code prohibits businesses from selling alcohol within that vicinity.  The City permits, however, property owners and their tenants to apply for a Alcohol Sales Special Exception, which we are seeking.  The Special Exception is seemingly simple, but needs the guiding hand of a good attorney.  It goes like this:

  • Complete an application that describes the intended use of alcohol sales, its impact, and mitigative measures;
  • Seek the consent of the Church;
  • Comply with the City’s “Good Neighbor” Policy (meaning discuss your intentions with your neighbors and seek to resolve any reasonable concerns that they may have);
  • Appear before the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC); and, finally,
  • Appear before the Planning Board, which is the approval authority.  The Planning Board can deny the application, grant the application with some restrictions, or grant the application without restrictions.

Currently, the application is slated to appear before the DRC this Friday and, hopefully, the Planning Board in January, subject to its agenda demands.

The real trick with these administrative procedures is to ensure the client’s long term interests are protected.  For example, right now Glazed Donuts is open 7 am – 3 pm.  But, there may be demand to be open longer in the future.  And, as it expands its wholesale operations, there may be a time where the bakery is operating 24 hours a day.  And, if the shop is making donuts, it only makes business sense to open its doors to any retail customers, including those who may want to have a speciality cocktail with their donut (even if late at night).  So, we’re being careful to pursue a Special Exception that permits Glazed Donuts to expand their operations as they see fit when the time is right, free of unreasonable restrictions.

All in all, this project illustrates the creativity and innovation of the culinary entrepreneur.  I, for one, have never heard of a donut shop selling beer and wine.  But, I’ve also never heard of gourmet donut shop . . . ever!  Though, my wife and I are glad we now have.  (Our waistlines are not as grateful.) Culinary entrepreneurs bring experiences that we otherwise might not have, and I’m proud to serve them as their counsel.

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