Pups Pub (Instagram | Website), the Instagram-worthy dog park/bar that opened this summer in downtown Orlando, has hit a snag and has some health officials wagging their fingers instead of their tails.
As first reported by News 6, state health inspectors raised some red flags after a recent visit and gave them a failing grade for allowing animals inside the premises, then declared “no dogs allowed” on the way out. This is the second location for the Pups Pub team, the first one being in Tampa, which has operated for two years without a problem and passed all of its previous health inspections.
According to Chapter 62-550, of the Florida Administrative Code, live animals are not allowed within bars unless they’re “working,” which doesn’t mean serving tables, but rather refers to patrol dogs, service animals, aquarium fish and crustaceans, and caged animals – though the last two don’t seem to be doing much work except hanging around or waiting to be someone’s dinner.
However, a law was passed in 2006 that allows governments to adopt ordinances that can exempt businesses within their boundaries from the state’s Food and Drug Administration Food Code via special ordinances. The City of Orlando has a Dog-Friendly Dining Permit, but that only allows for pets within certain designated outdoor areas like entryways and fenced-off patios, not within the actual business. More on that HERE.
Despite the grey area in state code and local ordinances, the City of Orlando felt confident enough in the concept to grant Pups Pub $100,000 from the Community Redevelopment Agency to renovate their warehouse and bring it up to code, and we reached out to see if that ever factored into the decision process to award them funding – which it appears it didn’t.
“Regarding the CRA funding, Pups Pub applied for building improvements under the Downtown Commercial and Residential Building Improvement Program. The program allows for eligible improvements to Commercial and Residential Properties within the CRA. The applicant applied for the following improvements including HVAC, Painting, Electrical, Plumbing, Concrete Work, Life Safety, and Sprinkler systems. The grant funding provided was $100,000. Those are typically awarded to improve the appearance of buildings and those funds are reimbursed after work is done. Additionally, proof of that work and payment are provided to the City to ensure it meets the terms of the grant agreement. These funds do not have anything to do with the operations of the business.”– ASHLEY PAPAGNI, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, CITY OF ORLANDO
Papagni also shared that as part of the planning process, the City approved a conditional use permit for Pups Pub to allow alcohol sales within 200 feet of a church, but that approval did not address where dogs would or would not be allowed as that is handled by the state through their health inspection process.
Pups Pub isn’t open to just anyone with a dog, and it has a members-only admission policy that required all of the dogs that come into the venue to be vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and to pass a behavior test before being allowed entry. They’ve also installed a special artificial turf flooring that was built to be regularly hosed down without puddling and to allow for easy drainage.
A spokesperson for Pups Pub told Bungalower that they’re trying to work through the situation and “help [the Health Deparment] to formulate a new code on how to grade businesses like [theirs.]”