Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg PedalPub manager wants people to be able to BYOB

PedalPub’s Krista Bertelson, center, says high insurance costs and a no-alcohol on board policy are hurting her business.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times (2012)

PedalPub’s Krista Bertelson, center, says high insurance costs and a no-alcohol on board policy are hurting her business.

ST. PETERSBURG — A little more than two years ago, Krista Bertelson successfully lobbied for new rules that would allow open-air pedal-powered party buses in the city.

The company she manages, PedalPub, became one of the first of its kind in the state. Her 16-seat, pedal-powered vehicle is now a familiar sight in the downtown bar and restaurant district, and has sparked similar services in other parts of the state.

But Bertelson went back to City Hall this week — this time to save her business.

Bertelson said since opening in late 2011, business has been stymied by two big things: high insurance costs and a city rule that doesn't allow customers to bring their own alcohol on board.

Bertelson says she can live with the requirement that she carry $5 million in liability insurance if the city eases the alcohol restriction.

"Our tour numbers would quadruple," she predicted, adding that other cities around the state and country have been more open to the BYOB concept.

Bertelson, who previously met one-on-one with council members, found a receptive audience at Thursday's meeting.

"As long as there's a limit to maybe three drinks per person, I'm okay with it," said council member Charlie Gerdes. "It's done everywhere else."

Council member Jim Kennedy agreed. He said he would object, however, to the easing of insurance requirements.

He and other council members asked the city's legal department to return soon with ordinance options.

Bertleson told the council she currently does about 10 tours a month in St. Petersburg. She estimated she could easily be doing 75 to 100 if people could bring their own beer and wine. She said she knows this because she has run them in other states.

"It's actually a much more laid-back experience," she said. "Whereas now people really are just bar hopping."

She said having their own alcohol doesn't stop people from visiting local establishments. She recently got a group from Clearwater who booked hotels and visited local businesses.

"The only reason they came to St. Pete was because of the PedalPub," Bertleson said. "They make a whole night of it just because of that two-hour experience."

Although businesses like Bertelson's are common in places like Chicago; Austin, Texas; and Denver, they are still relatively new in Florida, and different cities have different rules.

Steve Tishman owns and operates Limo Cycle in Sanford and Daytona Beach. The rules are different in those two cities.

Like St. Petersburg, officials in Daytona approved Tishman's business but prohibited on-board drinks. People who pedal around in Sanford, however, are allowed to tote their alcohol with them.

So is there a difference? Tishman said yes — especially with profits.

"We're making money in Sanford," he said. "It has been a huge boost. We tell people we provide the party venue, you supply the party."

Like Bertelson, Tishman said people who bring drinks with them seem to like the casual nature of it. It also hasn't kept them from making stops at bars or restaurants along the tour, he said.

Tishman made an agreement with Sanford officials to report back every 30 days about how the business is going. In the two months Limo Cycle has been in operation, there haven't been any major issues, he said.

Chris Haerting runs Cycle Party in Fort Lauderdale, where people can't bring their own coolers but can keep a drink purchased at a bar as long as it's not in a glass container.

He doesn't have a problem with that.

"I don't want it to be a BYOB," he said, adding that his business also has expanded and will soon add a service in Miami. "It defeats the purpose."

Bertelson sees the rule change as essential for her business here.

"We just can't be successful here the way it is running," she said.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at, (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

St. Petersburg PedalPub manager wants people to be able to BYOB 03/27/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's newest hotel opens with craft beers, cocktails and Cozy Corners

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last spring, Ryan Tarrant applied for a job with the new Hyatt Place nearing completion in downtown St. Petersburg. Among the questions an interviewer asked:

    What does this hotel need to succeed?

    Ryan Tarrant, director of sales for the Hyatt Place hotel  opening Tuesday at 25 2nd St. N in St. Petersburg, poses in the gallery,  as Hyatt Place lobbies are called. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. NFL Week 3: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions


    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) pumps his fist to the crowd after Tampa Bay's 29-7 victory over Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Bucs play at Minnesota at 1 p.m. Sunday. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Hernando budget for 2017-18 includes slight increase in tax rate

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission has given tentative approval to a $452.9 million budget, funded partially by a property tax rate that is slightly higher than last year.

    Wayne Dukes’ 
plan to trim the general fund rate was approved.
  4. A coast away from her roots, American Stage's Stephanie Gularte is soaking up Florida



    The last clear day before the storm, Stephanie Gularte looked at Milo, her 8-year-old Boston terrier.

    "You ready for action, bud?"

    Stephanie Gularte, who arrived in the Tampa Bay area 2 ? years ago to become producing artistic director of American Stage, strolls along Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg with Milo, her 
8-year-old Boston terrier.
  5. Bar review: Coffee Grounds serves java and cocktails in Treasure Island

    Bars & Spirits

    I won't bore you with a tedious recap of Hurricane Irma's aftermath, but by the fourth night without electricity I had to get out of the house. I headed out to the beach to cool off at a bar that I has noticed while passing by not long ago.

    Maren Kritz pours a Chocolate Coffee Martini at Coffee Grounds Coffee and Cocktails bar in Treasure Island. They use local Kahwa.