Grinner's Sidewalk Patio Braked by City Council
The fate of a downtown bar’s outside patio rests in the hands of City Council, who met Tuesday to discuss issuing a permit that would allow Grinner’s Daiquiri Bar to officially extend their patio space on the sidewalk and serve alcoholic beverages.
The idea is not a new one, as the House of FiFi Dubois forged a similar agreement with the City in 2012, however some council members are concerned about the size and appearance of the patio, as well as the implications of allowing alcohol sales on public space.
Development Services Director AJ Fawver introduced the request to Council on behalf of owner Garrick Engle, who was not present at the meeting. Fawver explained that technically, the patio is within the public’s right-of-way, and therefore requires the approval of City Council to come in line with a city ordinance governing such affairs.
Following Fawver’s presentation, councilwoman Charlotte Farmer voiced concern on alcohol consumption. “I do have one [question],” Farmer said. “I know 2012 was a while ago since we started this, but I definitely recall making the statement that I was afraid we were opening a can of worms. My biggest concern was the sale of alcohol outside on the sidewalk.”
Farmer asked for the opinions of newer council members, who expressed differing views on how sidewalk patios should be regulated.
“Honestly, I have no problem with it as long as they make it aesthetically pleasing,” councilman Johnny Silvas said. “We’d have to prohibit the sale of alcohol down there [at FiFi’s] if we didn’t want it outside, and it happens, so I’m certainly not against the idea so long as they make it look nice…I’ve never heard of any crazy ongoings down there.”
San Angelo Police Department Lt. Mike Hernandez confirmed Silvas’ assertions Tuesday evening via telephone. When asked if he anticipates an increase of incidents dealing with intoxication should the permit be issued, he said, “I don’t think so. We have a couple already that have some outside seating. I think we have a pretty good system in place with everybody.”
Hernandez mentioned that both the PD and the businesses monitor who’s coming in and out and are careful about who’s being served alcohol and where the drinking is taking place.
With alcohol already permitted at FiFi’s, Farmer’s can of worms appears to have been opened. Grinner’s has currently got tables in place, Fawver explained; Engle is merely seeking to bring it up to code. Appearances have not been discussed, however Fawver stated she believes Engle intends to keep it more or less as is.
Like Silvas, councilman Rodney Fleming was not opposed to the sale of alcohol. Rather, his concern lies in the lungs. “One thing I’m worried about this—I don’t mind the purchase of alcohol, but I think the main reason they’re asking for this is to allow smokers to be out there,” Fleming said. “I think I would be more in favor of it if we said apply the same rules to the outside of the building that are inside.
Farmer, however, countered with: “smokers have rights as well.”
As part of her presentation, Fawver showed photos of the space designated to be used for the sidewalk patio. Having hashed out the booze and cigarette butts, discussion moved to size of the patio, as it pertains to public use.
The City has an ordinance requiring that a certain amount of sidewalk space be left clear for pedestrians, a feat made simpler by recent sidewalk expansion projects downtown. Upon eyeing the photos, council members took issue with the width of the patio, stating it could impede foot and wheelchair traffic and interfere with the City’s Streetscape Plan, which has marked some sidewalk areas for the implantation of art for decorative value.
As meetings concerning the street art have yet to be held and questions remained unanswered, Council unanimously agreed to table the item for further discussion.