Tampa Bay Times
Greg Lore, manager of Clear Sky Beachside Cafe in Clearwater, was thrilled when he heard the county might allow alcohol sales starting at 8 a.m. on Sundays.
Lore said the restaurant, which offers a bloody mary bar, bellinis and mimosas among its other brunch offerings, said the cafe usually gets bombarded at 11 on Sundays after facing disappointed tourists, unfamiliar with the county’s lingering blue law, a remnant from Puritan colonists in the 1600s.
“We’re really excited about it,” Lore said. “A lot of people come in on vacation and they don’t know the local ordinances. They can come in Saturday, or any other day of the week, and they can get that stuff.”
The ordinance, proposed by Mayor’s Council and approved by the county, must now be presented as an ordinance in each city and approved before businesses are allowed to start selling alcohol earlier. Every mayor supported the changed except those in Seminole and Belleair Bluffs, Mayors Council President Gary Katica said.
“I’m not a drinker, but it’s absolutely crazy to me,” Katica said. “I was amazed that the law hadn’t changed since I was a young airman at MacDill.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who has long expressed support for repealing the law, is working on an ordinance to present to the City Council, communications director Ben Kirby said.
“We hadn’t heard any objections,” Kirby said.
Kirby said the law will benefit people heading to tailgates as well.
Deborah Sullivan, city clerk for Belleair Bluffs, said the city has no restaurants that open on Sundays before 11. The only people it might affect were at the boat ramps, she said.
“They found no real reason to move it up from 11 to 8,” she said. “It was not a big push here.”
Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters could not be reached for comment.
Lisa Ammons, owner of Lisa’s Cafe in Madeira Beach, said she thinks the loosened laws will be good for businesses on the beach.
“This will help everybody out,” she said. “Most states don’t do that, it’s always been silly.”
Eric Shippie, assistant manager and “brunch specialist” at the Oyster Bar in downtown St. Petersburg, said the new laws will expand possibilities for businesses.
“It’s growth for the city,” he said. “Thumbs up.”
Katica said the ordinance has been overdue.
“Life is a series of adjustments,” he said. “Everything else changes, why wouldn’t this change?”