TAMPA — The Outpost Tap House and Tavern — so close to the University of Tampa that an ad for $1 draft beers bold-faces the "UT" in its name — overcame university objections Thursday to win initial approval to add liquor to its menu.
The Outpost, on Kennedy Boulevard just west of North Boulevard, already is zoned to serve beer and wine but wants city approval to pour mixed drinks, too.
A partner in the business said that without liquor he's at a "competitive disadvantage."
"We need to offer the same amenities that other restaurants on Kennedy have," Michael Diogostine told the council.
But residents of North Hyde Park, the Tampa Alcohol Coalition and the university fought the proposed change, filling the council chambers with about two dozen opponents in Spartan red. UT's attorney contended that serving liquor so close to campus would contribute to under-aged drinking and excessive use of alcohol, which, in turn, could exacerbate on-campus problems like vandalism, litter, accidents and sexual assault.
"It's not the beer and wine, it's the liquor," said lawyer Gina Grimes, who represents the university. UT, having invested nearly $380 million in campus renovations and construction, has much at stake, she said. "We think it has a detrimental effect on UT and its students."
The council was not swayed, voting 6-0 in favor of the petition, which included waiving a requirement for at least 23 parking spaces (the tavern has 20). Council chairman Charlie Miranda abstained from the discussion and vote because his son Frank Miranda is the attorney for The Outpost.
A second and final public hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 6.
Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403 or Danielson@tampabay.com.