VENICE – For 14 years, ever since he retired to Venice, Paul Kochanek has cycled down Venice Avenue and stopped on the Venice Seaside Pavilion to seize a snack and – now and again – meet up with a number of regulars.
“I come right here nearly 4 or 5 days every week,” Kochanek stated Wednesday afternoon, as he took a break from studying his e book, which sat on the picnic desk, alongside together with his bicycle helmet and hand sanitizer.
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Simply moments earlier than, when Brian Bloomquist, proprietor of The Pilot Home in Venice Seaside, was requested to level out an everyday who may need an opinion on whether or not town of Venice ought to elevate its ban on the consumption of beer and wine on the seashore, he rapidly identified Kochanek, then added there have been probably a number of different regulars too.
When requested, Kochanek rapidly responded, “Why not?”
“Lido does it, Siesta does it; I’m stunned we don’t do it right here.
“I come right here all yr spherical, on a sizzling summer season day, I experience my bike up right here – a chilly beer is like sweet to a bit child,” he added.
The Pilot Home and Jetty Jack’s in Humphris Park on the South Jetty are the one two seashore snack bars in Sarasota County which are prohibited from promoting beer and wine – a direct results of the truth that Venice doesn’t permit alcohol consumption at any park within the metropolis limits.
Venice Metropolis Council will host the primary of two public hearings that may loosen that restriction
Which will change Tuesday, because the Venice Metropolis Council will host the primary of two public hearings that may loosen that restriction.
The board meets at 9 a.m. in Venice Metropolis Corridor, 401 W. Venice Ave,, and the ordinance is the primary merchandise of recent enterprise on the agenda.
The town’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board really helpful the change on a 4-2 vote in January.
If accredited, it will permit each Bloomquist and Chris Johnson, the proprietor of Jetty Jack’s, to promote beer and wine once they’re open – which is usually daytime solely, although on Fridays by Sundays, Jetty Jack’s can stay open by sundown.
It will additionally permit patrons at Sharky’s on the Pier to legally take their beer and wine to the seashore or on the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier. Seaside goers might carry beer coolers with them, too – although bottles would nonetheless be unlawful in any respect space seashores.
Assistant Metropolis Supervisor James Clinch stated a roundtable of metropolis officers, together with public works, parks, strong waste and Venice Police, all had no challenge with an ordinance change, particularly since many beachgoers had been bringing their very own alcohol anyway.
“We see it in our rubbish cans in our trash assortment regularly,” Clinch stated. “We see it on the jetty regularly, we see it at different seashores regularly.
“It is at the moment taking place however it’s not creating nuisance points proper now.”
The proposed ordinance would nonetheless prohibit folks from consuming beer and wine in beachfront parking heaps, however permit them to drink it on seashores and on the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier throughout daytime.
Whereas employees has weighed in with help, Clinch famous, it’s additionally basically a coverage resolution for the seven-member Metropolis Council.
Two different Pilot Home patrons, Vic Clore and Tim Genovese – each retired snowbird law enforcement officials from Michigan – stated they most likely would not purchase a beer on the snack bar however had no challenge until there was a risk of a rowdy crowd.
Clore paused for a second to evaluate the predominantly retiree crowd then added, “This place closes up at like 3 p.m., so if they simply had been opened up at daytime I do not assume there’d be an issue.”
Bloomquist, who companions together with his brother to function the seashore concessions on the North Jetty and North Jetty Fish Camp, in addition to Nokomis Seaside underneath a contract with Sarasota County, stated his foremost goal is to fulfill buyer demand.
“Stand proper right here for 5 minutes, and also you’re going to see 5 – 6 folks asking for beer,” Bloomquist stated.
The requests elevated for the reason that comfort retailer subsequent door was demolished to make approach for a three-story condominium.
“I’m not pushing for it, I simply need to give folks what they need,” Bloomquist stated.
His brother Justin Bloomquist famous that at Shark Tooth Seaside Concessions on an annual foundation, there have been 21,320 transactions involving alcohol, which accounted for about $125,000 in gross sales.
The 2 brothers solely acquired the contract for the 2 North Jetty concessions final July so, for them, that monitor document isn’t as firmly established.
Justin Bloomquist doesn’t anticipate Pilot Home to do the identical quantity of alcohol gross sales as Shark Tooth however there’s nonetheless a loss in income.
A unique concession mannequin
At Jetty Jack’s, Johnson runs on a unique mannequin. The earlier proprietor of the snack bar that began as Anita’s Sandcastle, was paid $12,000 a yr to keep up the restrooms within the facility that her father constructed utilizing delivery containers.
On the time, town was pleased to have somebody keep restrooms on the South Jetty, as a substitute of paying a custodian.
She saved all the cash she raised from promoting meals cooked on her sizzling canine cart.
When Johnson bid on the contract to function the ability in 2017, he nonetheless acquired to keep up the restrooms however as a substitute, he pays town of Venice $12,000 a yr in lease and offers town a share of his earnings, simply because the Venice Pier Group does.
The returns to town have been extra modest – a complete of $19,561 above the bottom lease since Johnson opened in March, 2018.
Johnson’s finest yr was 2019, when he gave town $6,770.28 in revenue sharing.
Whereas Johnson factors out that the elevated income from beer and wine gross sales would imply extra money for town, he additionally stresses that it will put him on a equal footing with Bloomquists’ concessions on the north facet of Venice Inlet, and the close by Crow’s Nest, which already makes use of the lot at Humphris Park as overflow parking for patrons.
“I’d say day by day we flip away 30 to 50 folks and it’s very irritating to have to try this,” Johnson stated. “Individuals take a look at you bewildered they usually level over on the North Jetty and say they will promote beer and wine.”
Whereas sitting on a bench alongside Venice Inlet with an ideal view of boaters going out and in, Kim Carey famous that she and her husband Tom – snowbirds from Eau Claire, Wisconsin – are typical patrons of Jetty Jack’s.
“When you look down the seashore right here you’ll be able to see, it’s not a bunch of untamed youngsters,” Kim Carey stated. “It is folks like us who come right here.”
They sympathized with Johnson’s state of affairs.
“I feel it additionally makes it tough on a enterprise proprietor like he’s, attempting to make it,” Kim Carey stated of the prohibition on beer and wine gross sales.
Tom Carey added that places Johnson at a drawback in comparison with the North Jetty park.
Kim Carey added that when folks desire a beer, “they’re going to go there and get it and possibly eat.”
The Careys alternate between the North and South Jetty for his or her waterfront visits, relying on the course of the day and whether or not they need to stroll the seashore on the North Jetty.
Although each joked about having a beer or two being a part of a typical night for folks from Wisconsin, Tom Carey stated he didn’t know till not too long ago that beer was even bought on the North Jetty concessions.
Kim Carey added, “We by no means realized that was county and this was metropolis.”
“Usually the one time you see youthful folks, it’s all surfers, over on the opposite facet,” she continued, referencing the south a part of the park, which is adjoining to Jetty Villas. “Right here it’s all older folks like us.”
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House owners at Jetty Villas condominiums seem to have probably the most concern in regards to the prospect of alcohol gross sales at Jetty Jack’s.
“I’ve, on one event, picked up 10 beer bottles that had been thrown onto our property,” stated Stanley Chmielewski, a longtime Jetty Villas resident and former board member. “We’re at all times selecting up paper cups.”
Individuals who stroll from the Humphris Park car parking zone to the seashore are technically strolling on Jetty Villas property, as are individuals who arrange chairs on the grassy areas.
Chmielewski, who spoke on the January parks and recreation board listening to stated his concern was that individuals who purchased beer and wine on the concession would stroll round and depart trash on their property.
Nonetheless, there are various constructive experiences with park-goers.
“Most of them are aged folks like me,” he stated, referencing those that sit alongside the western Jetty Villas garden. “I’m going on the market many instances. I take a chair, I take a e book, I take a comfortable drink and we actually don’t thoughts that.”
Justin Bloomquist stated that within the 5 years he and Brian have run the Nokomis Seaside concession, there have been a pair instances once they’ve denied service to somebody who might have had an excessive amount of to drink.
That’s not one thing they will simply become involved in on the Venice Seaside concession.
“If I’m serving alcohol on the seashore or one thing like that, it offers us extra leeway to police it a bit extra,” he stated.
Johnson stated that Jetty Jacks employees can be educated to be vigilant for extreme consumption.
“If we begin to supply beer and wine, we’re placing our livelihoods extra on the road,” Johnson stated.
“My foremost objective is to fulfill our buyer calls for, enhance our income, enhance the pay that goes to our workers and actually reply the demand from our public,” he added. “What we’re asking for is a stage enjoying area so we will survive and be as profitable as we will.”
Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and will be reached at [email protected] Assist native journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.
This text initially appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Venice homeowners of Pilot Home and Jetty Jack hope to promote beer, wine