Lets two restaurants stay
The Winter Park City Commission voted to ban fast food along Park Avenue during Monday’s City Commission meeting – an action that sets a standard for future restaurants joining the Avenue.
The ordinance introduces new definitions for fast food restaurants and fine dining in the city’s zoning regulations, allowing code enforcement to better differentiate between the two.
By a unanimous vote, the City Commission supported the new language, as well as the ban on fast food.
“I do think this is going to take us a long way toward not allowing what some people don’t want to see, which are fast food restaurants on the Avenue,” Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel said.
The new ordinance came about after an uproar from local residents and merchants over Firehouse Subs and BurgerFi joining the Avenue. Concerned about preserving Park Avenue’s character, a group made up of Winter Park Chamber of Commerce members, Park Avenue merchants and attorney Frank Hamner drafted the ordinance to help clarify restaurant definitions, which the City Commission considered ambiguous until now.
“The first goal beyond anything else was to maintain the character and experience of the Park Avenue corridor by reinforcing rules and definitions that encourage fine dining,” Hamner said during the first reading of the ordinance last month.
“Can restaurants become fine dining just by providing table service? Well they shouldn’t, but they were able to.”
The list of criteria for what makes a restaurant “fast food” include payment before food is consumed, customers busing their own tables and disposable tableware.
Restaurants that show at least two of these traits are now prohibited from joining Park Avenue, while Firehouse Subs and BurgerFi are protected under a grandfather clause and must follow specific regulations laid out by the city.
The new regulations also introduce definitions for fine dining, which include criteria such as table service, a host or hostess and fine dining-caliber cuisine.
Restaurants that don’t meet these standards but are a step above fast food will be placed in a new category for non-fine dining restaurants, and will be limited to only 15 percent of the Avenue storefront space.
Commissioner Steven Leary supported the ordinance, but said that Park Avenue would have thrived with or without a ban on fast food.
“The brand for Park Avenue is very, very strong,” Leary said. “I don’t think it needs so much control.”
Mayor Ken Bradley said he saw Park Avenue as something worth preserving and maintaining, despite his qualms with regulating businesses.
“Park Avenue is a very, very unique place, one that we all love, enjoy and want to see continue to thrive and improve,” Bradley said. “While I personally loathe to limit any type of business activity, I understand the specialness of Park Avenue.”
“If the city of Winter Park owned a mall, we’d have a different view of this.”
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