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In a Switch, Flagler Beach Backs Doggie Dining At Some Restaurants, With Regulations

| October 28, 2011

No reservations required. (portujacksonii)

There will be dogs dining at some restaurants in Flagler Beach, legally. The city commission on Thursday voted 3-1 to legalize what until then had been a long-standing or emerging—if unwittingly illegal—practice at several restaurants, including Java Joint, Hurricane Patty’s, Flagler Fish Company, Spencer’s, Snack Jack and Turtle Shack.

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The restaurants and the city had no idea that a state law required the city to have an ordinance on its books allowing doggie dining. Flagler Beach didn’t. When that proposed ordinance came before the commission last August, commissioners rejected it in a surprising 3-2 vote. Several restaurant owners vowed to reverse the vote—and succeeded as commissioners Marshal Shupe and Kim Carney switched sides, Shupe from faint opposition and Carney from strong opposition to complete endorsement, as long as restaurants follow what amounts to four pages of regulations, from segregating where diners with dogs may sit to creating separate entry points for people without dogs, so pet-less diners don’t have to scramble over dogs on their way to a meal.

Commissioners Jane Mealy and Steve Settle were in favor all along. Commission Chairman opposed the measure all along. “This places a tremendous burden on the city to enforce this thing. We don’t have anybody to do that,” he said.

“This is not about dogs. This is about the restaurant owner and your responsibility as the restaurant owner. I wanted to make sure you understood what you’re getting in for,” Carney told restaurant owners when the commission approved the ordinance in a first of two required readings earlier this month. Carney said she didn’t have a change of heart. She merely spoke with restaurant owners and did more research, though clearly the reaction to the commission’s August vote from the business community—which helped elect Carney on a strong pro-business platform last spring—had its effect.

Kim Carney (© FlaglerLive)

She continued: “Dogs are not going to walk up to your restaurant and sit wherever they want outside. You’re going to provide a designated doggie area. You’re going to provide a chart to our city manager or our planning director on where this area is. The city is going to monitor you. You’re going to get a permit. You’re going to have to pay for a permit. There’s people I talked to that said, I ain’t paying you anything. So that’s their choice. Just wanted to make sure that everybody knows that we’re getting in the business of inspecting now and I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I’m all for you if you and your staff are ready to do this the way the state is telling you that you have to do it, then I’m ready to do that.”

“I just want to make it clear to everyone that all these regs are not ours,” Commissioner Jane Mealy said. “These regs are the state’s. All we’re allowing is that we now give them a permit to now do what the state tells them they have to do.”

Beyond complying with strict regulations, restaurants wanting to provide doggie dining will have to pay an initial one-time $100 application fee and an additional, annual $150 permitting fee. The money would help defray the cost of inspections, which will be carried out primarily by the county health department.

“Fees weren’t made up out of the air,” Commission Chairman John Feind said. Referring to Bruce Campbell, the city manager, he continued: “Our planner worked with Bruce and this is what they established as far as what it’s going to cost the city to actually do this, to check on these applications and see that the people have complied. The fees are seemingly might be a little bit high but I understand other places have fees as high as $500.”

Restaurant owners and managers were clearly pleased. Annette Massey, Flagler Beach resident. “I know the business I work for is really excited to comply with the regulations. I know they’re lengthy, but we understand the need for them and we plan on trying to involve other businesses to participate,” said Annette Masssey, general manager at Snack Jack at the south end of town. “It’s going to be great for businesses and it’s going to help keep folks that come here with their dogs coming, and maybe even create a niche for Flagler Beach to be known for being dog-friendly and steal some of the business from other areas.”

Jeff Niday, who’d bought the Turtle Shack in January with his family and opened it in march—as a dog-friendly restaurant—had been stunned to realize that he’d have to turn customers away because of the ban. Two weeks ago he urged commissioners to leave it to restaurant owners to decide how to manage their restaurants. “It’s something that should be our decision,” he said. Now it is, within certain bounds, though enforcement—as always the wild card in Flagler Beach—will be the unanswered question. It’s very likely that the ordinance the city just passed essentially places the city and its restaurants on the safer side of the law, without changing anything much: restaurants that had been welcoming dogs will continue to do so, with some cosmetic changes, restaurants that didn’t will continue as they were. Even before the ordinance was passed, Carney said, restaurants that were used to having dogs were continuing to welcome them, from what she’d experienced.

Nevertheless the city commission appears ready to take advantage of the ordinance from a marketing perspective. What it previously opposed is now a dish of a selling point.

“I run a big event for the Rotary Club and the first question I get is where are the hotels that are dog-friendly and we know your beach is dog-friendly,” Carney said. “So now we can package ourselves as dog-friendly hotel, dog-friendly restaurant, dog-friendly beach. So it all fits together.”

13 Responses for “In a Switch, Flagler Beach Backs Doggie Dining At Some Restaurants, With Regulations”

  1. Stan says:

    Dogs in a restaurant ? Personally I think it is a very unhygienic move.

    I am a non smoker, but think its a sad day when dogs have more rights than smokers.

    The whole thing is farcical, but who cares? most so called “restaurants” in reality are only really noisy cafés anyway.

  2. ChowJin says:

    The way this economy is going would not surprise me that we see dog and cat on the local menu in a few years.

  3. Nanci Whitley says:

    I’m very pleased with the new ordinance. When I visit a restaurant in Flagler Beach I will tell them it’s because they are dog friendly. I always stay at Red Roof in when car traveling because they were the first national change to allow dogs. I would like to see the beach restrictions lifted also.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    Thaaank You! to all involved in passing this ordinance. Specially to our pet friendly mom& pa local restaurants. Great idea also would be to promote local pet friendly hotels. These pet welcoming sites advertise allover the internet and Flagler County should be included. We need the business to create more jobs so badly needed.

  5. Kip Durocher says:

    I love to watch the “which ever way the wind
    blows” votes of the FBC commission.
    Personally I like dogs. Let your visitors know that the Topaz
    at the beach ok with pets.

  6. TLC says:

    I have no desire to eat at any place that allows animals in and I will take my money to places that will serve food free of dog hair.

  7. Ralph Belcher says:

    How do I know if the table I’m sitting at wasn’t subject to our most beloved little friend’s leg-lifting. I could go on. Say, have you ever been in a fairly decent hotel room only to have 10,000 fleas jump on your legs after sitting down in your room for five to ten minutes.

    There’s a reason why there are no successful restaurants located within cattle barns. Same idea…

    Hey, with my affinity for auto racing, do you think I have a fair chance of getting the Flagler Beach City Commission to raise the speed limit on A1A to, say, about 90mph? Maybe if I fill the City Hall chambers with enough fellow speed enthusiasts? hmm…

    It’s all tounge-in-cheek, but I’m sure a few get the drift.

  8. ilikemytazer says:

    i wont eat there as it is—another reason to avoid the place some more

  9. NortonSmitty says:

    I love my dog, but I can understand why some of the posters will not spend their hard earned money in an establishment that allows animals and their vermin in to sit next to them. Bravo to them for standing up for their beliefs.

    That said, let it be known that I will eat at least one meal a day minimum even if I have to sell my stove and ‘fridge to the first culinary establishment in this fine town that will put up a sign saying “Sorry, We DO NOT Serve Republicans”

    Forget the fleas, hair, barking, I don’t care about that. But I would gladly go down on a Beagle for dessert than have to sit next to a couple of retired guys discussing the finer points of political and economic genius they absorbed from the Bill O’Reilly program last night.

    Oh. yes! Forget the Beagle, Please bring on that Great Dane! I’m there!

  10. DineWithDogs says:

    I applaud this move. I have been to plenty of restaurants in other cities that allow dogs. At any of their outside seating people can sit with their dogs. I take my dogs on trips with me very frequently and I look for restaurants that are dog friendly. The restaurants will usually give my well behaved dogs a bowl of water or a treat. Some places are even so dog friendly that they have a little menu section for dogs. For those of you who complain about dog hair in your food or what ever,any of the places I have ever been dogs are NOT allowed inside unless they are service dogs. So just get over it. I see more people bothered by someone’s screaming brats than I have seen bothered by a dog sitting under with their owner.

  11. more rules are't the answer says:

    i’m thankful to see the Flagler Beach city council listening to the citizenry.

    Had this occurred in Palm Coast they would have had someone from New Jersey conduct code enforcement with someone from New York supervising and complaining about how things are different in Florida.

    I-95 runs north.

  12. mike t says:

    We love taking our vaca in FB,but I don’t like dogs-especially where I eat. I can’t stand owners who think it is “cute” when their mutt slobbers all over me. If it happens I’ll kick the dog.

  13. Rocky Mac says:

    We appreciate the restaurants in our area that welcomed our 10 year old rescued dog. We only sit out on the deck away from everyone, if possible. We would never think to bring her indoors. Due to our dog being a recent rescue with high anxiety we rarely go anywhere without her. We found a restaurant up in St. Augustine and just recently found one in Palm Coast. Not sure if this new owner knows of any restrictions here in town. We were the only people in the outdoor seating area as it was a bit chilly that evening. I too do not like dogs “slobbering” on me or jumping on me either. Pet owners need to restrain their animals, just like parents should do with their unruly children. P.S. If a dog slobbers on you, you should “kick” the owner not the dog. He doesn’t know any better. :)

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