Woof, woof! Doggy dining creates issues
More and more places around Pinellas County are allowing restaurants to serve Fido and Rover along with their two-legged human companions. But some of the cities that allow doggy dining are having some minor issues with it.
This past week, Pinellas County decided to let diners bring their dogs to outdoor patios at restaurants. Interested restaurants can get a $215 permit, subjecting them to a series of rules in exchange for potentially bringing in more business.
This change mostly affects unincorporated Palm Harbor and unincorporated Seminole.
Several local cities already have similar rules, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, Gulfport, St. Pete Beach, Tampa and Bradenton. And Largo is about to consider doggy dining at the suggestion of Vice Mayor Woody Brown.
In the meantime, Clearwater is discovering something about doggy dining. Since the city decided last year to allow it, apparently a number of restaurants have gone ahead and done it without bothering to get a permit.
“I think there are only two or three that have gotten the permits and are following the regulations, and yet we have them all over the place,” said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. It turns out there are three: Crabby’s Bar & Grill, 333 S Gulfview Blvd.; Post Corner Pizza, 431 S Gulfview Blvd; and Pickles Plus Deli, 2530 McMullen Booth Road.
“I think we were the first to get a permit. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen plenty of others places with dogs, but who knows?” said Pickles co-owner Joe Benedettini.
Restaurants that get permits are informed about the rules: Leashes are required, and dogs aren’t allowed on tables or even on chairs. Hand sanitizer must be stationed at each table in designated dog-friendly areas. If restaurant employees pet a dog, they have to wash their hands afterward.
In Clearwater, the cost of an annual doggy dining permit is $75. However, an unpermitted restaurant could be fined $130.
Before the city starts enforcing the law, Cretekos asked for the list of permitted restaurants to be sent to the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce Chamber to educate them about the process.