ST. PETE BEACH – City commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 27 in favor of a right-of-way use permit that will allow Jackie’s Bistro and Catering to use three city parking spaces for an outdoor dining area.
Jacqueline Smit, owner of the restaurant at 338 Corey Ave., will use the three parking spaces to place eight tables in an enclosed area at the front of the business.
The deal is contingent upon Smit providing insurance protection to the city and a survey to depict the area to be covered by the insurance policy. The agreement would also include a 30-day notice to vacate if the city decides the seating area is not working out in St. Pete Beach’s best interest.
Tom Rogers, president of the Corey Area Business Association, said the addition would include a lighted awning overhead. He said the chairs would be brought inside each night, but the tables would remain outside overnight.
“This grew out of meetings by the Corey Area Business Association over the last three months with plans for streetscaping,” said Rogers. “During the course of the discussion, Jackie said she would spend some of her own money to try out some outdoor dining.”
Her proposal was well received and passed unanimously by the CABA board.
Rogers stressed that the new venue would be table service waited on by a wait staff.
“We think this is something that will give us a boost as far as people coming out to the business district,” said Rogers. “We think it’s essential to get people to come out and enjoy Corey Avenue.”
He said Smit has invested about $25,000 in the project. He said all of the outdoor facilities could be quickly moved inside in the event of severe weather.
Mayor Steve McFarlin expressed concern over the city’s liability and whether Smit’s insurance would cover the city.
City Manager Mike Bonfield said the insurance policy covers the address and the city needs to verify that it also covers the space in the public right-of-way that is not part of the business address.
“They don’t have a description of the (added) property,” said Mayor Steve McFarlin. “That’s why we want a survey done on it. They need the footage, need the description of the property talked about. They said it was doable.
“This is so different,” McFarlin added. “We need to get this in black and white. It’s got to be crystal clear.”
Vice Mayor Lorraine Huhn said she supports the concept and believes it might be the start of other improvements along Corey Avenue.
“How ever we can make the relationship whole, I think is important,” Huhn said. “This could be the beginning of something wonderful that could happen. Let’s do the first one and do it right. Any others that follow, we can handle as an individual case at a time.
“This is just the beginning,” she added.
Commissioner Melinda Pletcher agreed.
“I love this idea,” Pletcher said. “I like the idea of prototyping it. Let’s see what the response is. My biggest concern is parking. I know three spaces doesn’t seem like so much but if the theater (reopens), those three spaces are critical.”
Rogers said the loss of three parking spaces would hardly be noticed.
“In the evenings, when we’re trying to generate extra business, there’s plenty of parking,” said Rogers. “Everything is closed. All the employees are gone. Also, the post office is closed, which gives us more parking back there.”
Smit plans to begin work on the new area immediately.