Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Thai House owner says Largo's alcohol regulations are hurting business

The back of Thai House is about 90 feet from Fuguitt Elementary School’s northwest property line if going in a straight line. City code calls for a distance of 300 feet.


The back of Thai House is about 90 feet from Fuguitt Elementary School’s northwest property line if going in a straight line. City code calls for a distance of 300 feet.

The new owner of the Thai House Restaurant says Largo's strict alcohol regulations are crippling his business.

Thai House can't serve wine or beer because the restaurant at Largo Mall is too close to Fuguitt Elementary School.

Establishments that sell alcohol to drink on site are prohibited within 300 feet of a church, child care facility or public school, according to city code.

"I'm not trying to promote alcohol or beer," owner Tony Allen said. "I want to give someone a nice dining experience."

One week last month, Thai House lost 52 groups of diners who wanted alcoholic drinks with their meals, said Allen, a charter boat captain whose wife has owned and operated several restaurants.

That same week, on a Saturday night, "we had 11 groups of people that walked because they all wanted to buy sake," he said.

Largo calculates distance in a straight path from the property line of the school to the nearest wall of an establishment, which, in this case, is near the restaurant's back door. By that method, the restaurant is about 90 feet from the school's northwest property line.

The code should be based on access, not distance, Allen said.

Between the school land and the back of the building, there is a fence about 8 feet high and a dense thicket of trees.

"There is no access to the property from the rear. You can't even see the school," Allen said.

To enter the restaurant from the school at 13010 101st St., someone would have to walk more than 1,000 yards and pass an Albertsons liquor store and grocery, which also sells wine and beer, Allen said.

Allen bought the restaurant in August and applied for the license from the state. But he wasn't able to get an okay from the city.

Since Thai House opened in September, Allen and city officials have exchanged a flurry of e-mails.

Places that have a valid, active alcoholic beverage license "can obtain a license when ownership changes," community development director Carol Stricklin informed Allen in October. Unfortunately, that was not Allen's case, she wrote.

A previous owner's alcoholic beverage license expired in September 2007, according to state records. And that appears to be last license at the location.

"Had there been an active license, we would have been able to give him the sign-off," Stricklin said.

Last month, Allen sent an e-mail to City Hall saying the restaurant would "mount a public campaign" and "have to start making waves" to solve the problem.

City commissioners plan to discuss the issue at Tuesday's community work session. They'll consider either reducing the distance requirement or instituting a different means of measurement, Stricklin said.

Largo's calculation method is relatively common, she said.

The county's two largest cities do determine distance in a similar way. But they're not so strict when it comes to restaurants that serve alcohol.

For example, Clearwater's code addresses nightclubs, but not restaurants that serve alcohol. The city generally requires that nightclubs and package stores be at least 500 feet from places of worship or schools. Distance is measured from property line to property line.

St. Petersburg doesn't have a distance requirement for restaurants that serve alcohol, either. But the city, which uses a method like Largo's, requires establishments that serve primarily alcohol to be 400 feet from facilities like churches and schools.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at or (727) 445-4155.

Share your thoughts

The Largo City Commission is holding its annual Community Work Session from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive. In addition to the city's alcohol regulations, commissioners plan to discuss the Lake Seminole dredging project, Nitrogen Consortium, design of Highland Recreation Complex, budget input process and citizen comment policy at city meetings. Call City Hall at (727) 587-6700 or e-mail

Thai House owner says Largo's alcohol regulations are hurting business 12/05/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2009 6:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection


    MULBERRY — The local high school has an enrollment of 1,000 but to some it feels like a tight-knit family. Many of Mulberry High School's students have spent all of their school days within the city limits, said principal Michael Young.

    Pepe Salgado, 18, was killed Friday along with his sister Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15, in a car crash in Plant City. They were passengers in a car driven by their cousin Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, who was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was listed in critical condition. All three lived in Mulberry and attended Mulberry High School. [Polk County School District]
  2. Assisted living facility owner accused of sexually assaulting employee in Pinellas


    ST. PETERSBURG — An assisted living facility owner was arrested Thursday on charges that he sexually assaulted an employee, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

  3. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach



    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  4. Editorial: Honoring a solemn sacrifice


    For a nation still slogging away in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones across the globe, this Memorial Day holiday marks the latest commemoration of sacrifice abroad, of uncertainty over America's role in securing the globe and of the country's great debt to its military families. The peace of yesterday is almost …

  5. Four Brandon middle school students face child porn charges related to sex video


    BRANDON — Four Burns Middle School students, ages 12 to 14, have been arrested on child pornography charges after one secretly recorded a girl in a sex act and the others posted it online, authorities said Friday.