Key West Politics: KWHS & 300 Foot Rule

Key West Politics: KWHS & 300 Foot Rule

“My only issue is, you can get grits and grunts for $7.95, and you only get one grunt. I think you should get two.”

Addressing the dais Tuesday night was Mike Mongo, president of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. At issue to allow a variance of the ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a church, school, cemetery, or funeral home. In this case, a school.

Essy’s Café a taste of Cuba, at 1908 Flagler Avenue, is within 300 feet of Key West High School. Their neighbors, a favorite watering hole of many and Key West’s home to the World Cup, Shanna Key. The green and yellow bar with a rowdy reputation is located just 320 away from school grounds.

In two other instances, the privilege has been granted. To the Tennessee Williams Theatre and the Orchid Key Inn.

A representative from the school district wasn’t at Old City Hall, i.e. the superintendent, high school principal, or representative from the board.

“I would feel more comfortable if the superintendent or the principal were weighing in on the issue,” suggested Commissioner Teri Johnston.

A letter was sent to the school and they choose not to respond. A representative did state the feelings Chairman Andy Griffiths made known, which is, he doesn’t believe if kids are going to buy alcohol, they’re going to go to a restaurant to do it.

Nyama Varela, a server and frequent diner asked the dais to give the owner, Essy, a chance.

“I go there to eat. I want to have a drink. We aren’t going to serve students. They will be carded just like anyone else.”

Because there is a bar and package store already in close proximity, Mayor Craig Cates pointed out, the move to allow the sell of wine, and beer would benefit the business, not lure underage drinkers to Essy’s.

“I just don’t think this will have that much of an effect on them serving beer and wine for dinner.”

As long as the variance is made clear the license only goes with Essy’s Café, Commissioner Barry Gibson advised, then the right should be granted. “For whatever reason the business is not there, then there is no license.”

The dais voted unanimously to approve the resolution. You’ll now be able to enjoy wine and beer with your food at Essy’s Café!


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