EDIT: The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation amended the order that suspended alcohol sales at bars and pubs to allow any establishment to sell food to sell alcohol for onsite consumption. The original order required all vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages that derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from those sales to stop on-premises sales of alcohol immediately. Vendors that are not licensed to sell food are not allowed to sell alcohol unless it is for off-site consumption.
The Florida Department for Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has made it very clear that they will not be reopening bars and breweries any time soon for onsite alcohol consumption.
DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears recently toured the state to speak with bar owners and beer brewers in an attempt to make them feel heard and listened to, pantomiming concern for their businesses during the COVID-led shutdown since an executive order was put in place on June 26.
A member of the DBPR staff stated in a public email last week that following Beshears’ apology tour, that there was still no end in sight for the reopening of bars and breweries in the state.
“While no timeframe for reopening is certain, Secretary Beshears understands the urgency advocated by business owners in these recent meetings.”
– Karen Smith, DBPR
Currently, only businesses that make over 51 percent of their revenue from the sale of food are allowed to reopen for onsite consumption, excluding bars and nightclubs. That move resulted in a number of lawsuits from affected business owners against Governor DeSantis, questioning the legality of his executive order to shut them down. A local lawsuit that included a number of local bars and clubs like Latitudes, Irish Shannon’s Pub, and Cahoots, was struck down by Circuit Judge KEvin Weiss who sided with DeSantis and the judge.
“It is not this Court’s role to second guess or otherwise micromanage Defendants’ present policy regarding the prohibition of ‘on-premises’ alcohol sales at bars and nightclubs, when the remedy is narrowly tailored to achieve the desired goal of public safety,”
– circuit judge kevin weiss
Faced with the prospect that bars will not be reopening any time soon, many local owners are now making the transition to acquire food licenses and shifting their business models.
Below, you’ll find an early roundup of local watering holes that are adding kitchens in order to reopen as quickly as possible.
- Bullitt Bar (Facebook | Instagram) – Adding a new pizza menu. Temperature checks are taken upon entry and they will be operating at 50 percent capacity inside.
- Casey’s (Facebook | Instagram) – Popcorn and fresh-baked pretzels.
- Conrad’s Shanty (Facebook | Instagram) – If their Instagram is to be believed, they’ll be serving up some artisan pizza Lunchables. Expect pre-packaged and nostalgic foods that fit the backyard vibe of the bar.
- Finnhenry’s (Facebook) – Finn Henry’s is teaming up with Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria to launch a new menu of sandwiches, salads, soup, and unique new items starting on Monday, August 31.
- Guesthouse (Facebook | Instagram) – They’ve added a kitchen in the Sunroom sister bar space that cooks up pizza.
- The Lodge (Facebook) – Wings (and more things being added all the time).
- McQueens Social Lounge (Facebook | Instagram) – Adding a new pizza menu. Temperature checks are taken upon entry and they will be operating at 50 percent capacity inside.
- Redlight Redlight (Facebook | Instagram) – Adding a kitchen in the near future but still cementing menu and options with the City of Orlando.
- Swirlery (Instagram) – Currently in soft reopening with a limited menu of hummus plates and rotating specials like littleneck clams. Menu is primarily plant-based with a touch of seafood like smoked salmon, crab salad, and tin cans.
- Will’s Pub (Facebook | Instagram) – Partnering with Swine and Sons to open as a sit-down table-service restaurant with seating inside as well as outside and in Lil Indies next door.