Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach rescinds Swigwam Beach Bar's sidewalk alcohol agreement

st. PETE BEACH — Patrons of the Swigwam Beach Bar have less than 30 days left to enjoy imbibing from their sidewalk seats.

Last week, the City Commission invoked a 30-day notice clause to cancel a two-year-old agreement that allowed outdoor seating on the sidewalk where patrons could take their drinks and smoke in the open air.

When some audience members wanted to speak in defense of the Swigwam, Mayor Steve McFarlin flatly refused, drawing loud protests.

"There is not going to be any public discussion. It's not the attending mob rules," McFarlin told the upset audience as he called for a vote.

The 3-2 decision was a mirror image of the original 3-2 decision to allow the sidewalk drinking.

The changed vote was the result of the outcome of the March election when Lorraine Huhn won the District 1 commission seat.

She called for the Swigwam's sidewalk privileges to be rescinded because of what she says were growing complaints from other businesses and patrons along Corey Avenue.

"I had a flood of calls from other business owners," Huhn said, explaining that other business owners complain how the Swigwam, at 336 Corey Ave., is unable to prevent its customers from blocking the sidewalk and intimidating passers-by.

Former District 1 Commissioner Al Halpern criticized the commission decision, saying the Swigwam and other businesses like it help to create "the vibrant beach atmosphere that's expected by our visitors."

McFarlin was particularly strident in his continued opposition to the Swigwam's use of the sidewalk, describing at length how his daughter was subjected to catcalls from patrons when she was driving by in her car.

"I am going to be real simple with this. We tried something and the fears we had came to fruition," McFarlin said. "What we did was bring barroom activity out on the street."

McFarlin said the behavior of many of the Swigwam patrons has been "offensive and intimidating to a lot of people."

Commissioner Bev Garnett agreed, saying that the height of the Adirondack-style chairs outside the Swigwam put the patrons "right in the face" of people walking on the sidewalk.

Garnett, who voted to rescind the sidewalk agreement, did say she would be willing to reconsider in the future if the Swigwam could find a "workable solution."

Huhn said she had tried finding a compromise, but other Corey businesses objected.

Swigwam owner Rob Williams said he had been blindsided two weeks before when Huhn first proposed canceling the agreement and then again that day when she called him two hours before the commission meeting to tell him she would no longer support any compromise.

Williams had proposed turning the Adirondack chairs sideways instead of facing the street to provide more free walking space on the sidewalk.

He also showed pictures of other businesses, bars and restaurants on Corey and in Pass-a-Grille that are allowed to have outside seating.

"I don't think it is fair," Williams said.

He said since he opened the Swigwam more than two years ago, seven new businesses have opened or are about to open on that section of Corey Avenue.

"We are exactly what Corey needs," he said. "We need more bars, more restaurants, more people on the street."

Commissioners Jim Parent and Marvin Shavlan unsuccessfully argued that a poll of other Corey Avenue business owners found the majority actually favor the Swigwam's sidewalk seating.

"This is an exquisitely difficult thing," said Parent, adding that personality conflicts among Corey business owners have "stirred things up."

Shavlan said he never saw a problem in the many times he has been on Corey Avenue.

"To rescind it seems a little harsh," he said.

Ironically, about 2 feet of the sidewalk in front of the Swigwam is private property owned by building's owner and the Swigwam's liquor license allows outside service, according to Williams and Shavlan.

That means that even after the sidewalk alcohol agreement ends, Swigwam patrons can still bring their drinks outside and smoke as long as they stay within that 2-foot space.

They can't step on the sidewalk if they are holding alcohol, however, since it is illegal according to city codes.

St. Pete Beach rescinds Swigwam Beach Bar's sidewalk alcohol agreement 07/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”