According to city paperwork, the City of Orlando is currently looking to put forth a Land Development Code amendment that will, “… clarify zoning definitions to better define the differences between a restaurant, bar, or nightclub.” The code amendment will also precede a new alcohol license application that the City will be sharing with the State to formally classify those new amended use definitions.

According to the amendments, a “nightclub” will be “any establishment which provides entertainment after midnight, including, but not limited to, floor shows, assembly areas, live bands, DJs, dancing (by patrons or employees), or other forms of entertainment. Includes establishments operating before or after midnight that have a cover charge or admission, have a dance floor or assembly area, have bottle services, or sell/rent private booths, areas or rooms (excluding theaters).”

We reached out to the City of Orlando to find out what these changes could mean for a restaurant like Hammered Lamb or Island Time, both of which occasionally charge a cover for drag brunch events or fundraisers, to see if that would qualify them as nightclubs versus restaurants. Ashley Papagni, the Public Information Officer for the Mayor’s Office, shared the following:

“To address your question about the two businesses you mentioned, these proposed changes do not apply to existing businesses that continue to operate as-is today. It will only be applied to new businesses or if there is a change in business name, change in ownership, a new use, expansion of a use, or a change in an Alcohol Beverage License. Additionally, it’s important to point out that this draft proposal is still going through some changes as it goes through the process and we get feedback from stakeholders.”


Papagni declared that the proposal, in its current form, does not include any regulatory changes or enforcement abilities and is simply being used to clarify what is and is not a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, in order to control where businesses will be allowed to open and to confirm that the neighborhood is compatible for those uses.

However, nightclubs are often subject to higher impact fees than bars and require more parking than a sit-down restaurant with a defined amount of seating. They often require more restrooms and different life safety plan requirements as well.

Milk District Main Street director, Zac Alfson, shared some concerns via email with his member businesses, stating, “My concern is that this will have unintended consequences, with many legitimate restaurants and bars being reclassified as nightclubs, and not be able to secure additional parking or face tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades to continue operations as they always have.”

Papagni also shared that there will be more opportunities for public and stakeholder input as the proposal moves forward through the Municipal Planning Board and City Council, ahead of being formally adopted.

The MPB meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. September 20 in Council Chambers in City Hall but residents can join the live virtual meeting HERE. They can also submit written comments to the board HERE.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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