4/7/23 UPDATE: The ownership team behind Sunset Bodega reached out following the posting of this story saying that they stand by their statement that city staff has made it impossible for them to be successful in downtown Orlando. Saying that they were told in December 2022 that there would be no need for a Change of Use if they stayed within set square footage on the bottom floor of the building and that they have records of their dealings with the City that supports their claim but that they would not be pursuing opening the business, saying, “We just don’t feel comfortable with the way the City is being run right now.”
See the bottom of this post for a full reaction to this article from the owners.
In a statement published to Instagram on Friday, Sunset Bodega (Instagram), the new coffee shop and convenient store concept located at 300 S Eola Drive [GMap], announced they would no longer be opening following an alleged incident with the City of Orlando.
The announcement comes as a shock given the business had only just entered its soft opening period this week.
In the statement, Sunset Bodega blames the city for the closure:
“The city staff has made it impossible for us to be successful. Please take it from us, downtown is going through major changes, and the hierarchy that makes most of the decisions is controlled by one or two people. These people do not care about what’s best for us or our neighborhood, they only care about their agendas. Get ready for a lot of dust as the big buildings and developers continue to get their way with these same individuals“
As of this post, no one from Sunset Bodega has been available to clarify which individuals or agendas cited in the post managed to prevent the opening.
However, sources from the city claim that the closure is in fact a result of Sunset Bodega choosing to move forward with its soft opening without receiving any of the basic permits required for a business to operate in the City of Orlando, including construction permits. The source insisted that they had attempted to work with the owner of Sunset Bodega to bring them up to code, even going as far as allowing them to streamline the process in order for them to meet their current timeline for their planned’ grand opening.
Ashley Papagni, Public Information Officer for the Office of the Mayor, confirmed those statements and with the following quote:
“It is important to note that the City offers several free services to advise entrepreneurs on how to open a business in Orlando and to help understand regulatory requirements, help expedite permitting and maneuver other processes to make opening a business as easy as possible. In this case, a meeting was had prior to this issue with city staff where information related to opening a retail/mercantile establishment was provided.
Unfortunately, when code was informed of a potential violation at the property because of unpermitted work, it was discovered upon inspection that was the case and the process the City had outlined was not followed. Construction was conducted without securing the proper permits and making changes to its use, therefore, classifying it under a different occupancy and building code from commercial office use to a retail/mercantile establishment. This action requires new building permits in order to operate under the proper code, including the fire code. Some of these changes included unpermitted construction to windows, doors, walkways, an ADA ramp and pavers.
As a result, because of the multiple reports of building code violations, the property was inspected and the city met with the owner to help bring them into compliance. In order to come into compliance, they would have to go through the proper permitting process – which would include building plans, permit fees, inspections and any associated construction costs with these items. This would be difficult to calculate without initial building plans.“– THE CITY OF ORLANDO
Rather than apply for the permits, the owner of Sunset Bodega chose to announce the closure of the business and allegedly fire all the recently hired staff.
This is a developing story and we will provide updates as they occur.
The owners responded to this story with the following statement.
“No one ever met with us or stepped foot in our store from the city. The exterior inspection turned up only common comments but a fraudulent claim called into code enforcement by the planning division and its chief Mark Cechman instigated [this whole incident] on the day of our soft grand opening.
Planning claimed we needed a change of use permit when one was never required and we were already permitted by state, county, and city licenses that were all signed off on by planning and zoning. The mayor’s office took a meeting with us and planning back in December when this was approved and confirmed.
The gesture on our grand opening was a bully tactic and resulted in us no longer feeling comfortable with the amount of negative interaction we had with high ranking city officials. The battle was too uphill, especially when the mayor’s office is willing to lie to the media about even ever stepping foot in our building. Very peculiar.”
Unfortunately if you did not grease Buddy Dyers with a bit of cash for his permanent reelection purchases or any of the other left wing communist commissioners and or the lgbtq groups they lead, your chances of harassment are 100% guaranteed.
Wow, on the edge of my seat! I want specific names from the city of orlando side. Something smells fishy. Seriously, great reporting.
These people must be REPUBLICANS, cause if they were DEMOCRATS, BUDDY DYER THE MAYOR WITH A SALARY OF OVER 220K A YEAR would immediately approve this business to move forward as long as they adverised they were LGBTQ+ and love pedophiles.
They have Never wanted downtown to be successful not 50 years ago not now