Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo unleashes doggy dining

Catherine Benoot, left, and Judy Sachs dine with Benoot’s 5-year-old Shih Tzu, Champagne, at St. Petersburg’s 400 Beach Drive.

LARA CERRI | Times

Catherine Benoot, left, and Judy Sachs dine with Benoot’s 5-year-old Shih Tzu, Champagne, at St. Petersburg’s 400 Beach Drive.

LARGO — On the southwestern edge of Largo, there's a Village Inn that has a spiffy new patio. The restaurant wanted to allow dogs to join their two-legged human companions on the new patio, but it turned out that wasn't allowed.

It is about to be now. City officials are unleashing doggie dining in Largo, allowing canines to hang out with their masters in outdoor dining areas.

"We've got little doggie dishes for them. We're ready for them when they come," said Village Inn manager Eric Basso.

Last week Largo commissioners voted unanimously in favor of doggie dining. After a second vote on the new city ordinance at the Aug. 6 commission meeting, Largo restaurants will be able to get a dog dining permit for a one-time $41 fee.

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 placed at each table in designated dog-friendly areas. If restaurant employees pet a dog, they have to wash their hands afterward.

"It just gives restaurant owners more options," said Vice Mayor Woody Brown, who first brought up the idea at the request of the Village Inn's owner. "I'm in support of any legislation that makes it easier for restaurants to do things that are unique and different — within what we're allowed."

More and more places around Tampa Bay are allowing restaurants with outdoor dining areas to serve Fido and Rover. Similar laws already exist in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, Gulfport, St. Pete Beach, Tampa, Bradenton and unincorporated Pinellas County.

"It gives our businesses the option," said Largo Commissioner Michael Smith. "It also gives the patrons a choice, because if they don't like it, they don't have to go there."

The city of Largo has never really made a practice of cracking down on cafes that let dogs on their patios. But the Village Inn, being part of a national chain, needed official permission.

In some of the communities that approved doggie dining, a handful of restaurants has sought permits. Some of them, like downtown St. Petersburg's Moon Under Water, later changed their minds when the proliferation of dogs became too much of a hassle.

Some of the cities also are having some minor issues with it. Clearwater, which implemented its new ordinance last year, recently discovered that a number of restaurants had welcomed dogs without bothering to get a permit.

"I think there are only two or three (restaurants allowing dogs) that have gotten the permits and are following the regulations, and yet we have them all over the place," Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said when he asked for an update on how many restaurants in the city had the permits. It turns out there are three.

The new ordinances are made possible by a state law called the Dixie Cup Clary Local Control Act, known to many as the "doggie dining" bill. Passed in 2006, it allows cities to opt out of the state's stricter code that bans dogs from restaurant patios — as long as restaurants follow the rules regarding leashes and dogs staying on the ground.

State restaurant inspectors enforce the rules. Largo's Planning Board recommended that the city set some additional rules, such as requiring dogs to be tethered to the owner's table or chair. However, Largo was told that state inspectors can't enforce any rules beyond those set by the state.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Tax rate increase

In other action last week, the Largo City Commission set a preliminary 2014 property tax rate that will go on Truth in Millage notices to taxpayers. It is a 5 percent increase to 5.2139 mills, meaning that the owner of a home valued at $100,000 after exemptions would pay Largo $521.39 under the proposed rate. Once the Truth in Millage rate has been announced, the tax rate can be lowered by city commissioners, but not increased. The commission will hold public hearings on the city budget on Sept. 3 and 18.

Largo unleashes doggy dining 07/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 3:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921