Brevard County bar owners, business regulators discuss reopening strategies

DBPR holds meeting Friday in Indialantic

INDIALANTIC, Fla. – The George & Dragon English Tavern’s owners were inside a special meeting Friday with state business regulators as bar owners worked with officials to come up with a plan to reopen.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation hosted Central Florida bar owners at Lou’s Blues on A1A in Indialantic. The meeting between the state and businesses was organized by state Rep. Randy Fine (Palm Bay-R).

“Hopefully, we’ll come together with some guidelines so we can open the bars soon,” the tavern’s co-owner Simon Wells said.

Bars were closed in April under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order, then reopened for a few weeks before the governor ordered them to close again on July 1.

Fine called it, "an important discussion."

“These are important businesses here in the state of Florida, but we also have to open them carefully given the spread of COVID,” Fine said. “There are parts of the bar experience that aren’t necessarily consistent with slowing the spread.”

Fine recently recovered from the virus after about a week in the hospital.

Taking a break from the meeting Friday afternoon, Wells said he felt confident the state is seriously considering reopening bars.

He said that inside the meeting, regulators were looking for ideas including possibly limiting hours of service, initially.

"We're ready to open up. It's time to go to work," co-owner Michael Saunders said.

Even if bar owners get what they want and can reopen as soon as they’d like, the owners of George & Dragon English Tavern’s said they will still carry on with suing the state.

The Cocoa Village bar’s liquor license was suspended by the DBPR in July for serving drinks. In response, the bar owners sued DeSantis and DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears. The lawsuit challenges the DBPR order and seeks an emergency injunction and damages, reports Florida Today.

The co-owners said they thought they were allowed to be open because they consider themselves a cigar bar.

David Lemon said they've lost a lot of revenue and time.

“We were a new business. We only had our license for about two months before they shut us down,” Lemon said. “It’s a major inconvenience and somebody has to pay for it.”

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