Residents call for an end to expanded outdoor seating

The Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar offers live music in its spacious outdoor dining area. -Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH — Restaurant seating that has expanded to sidewalks and parking lots due to the COVID-19 pandemic could disappear.

During public comment at the May 5 Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting, Bruce Herard and David Bell, residents of the Old Bridge Village Condominium, asked the City Commission to let seating allowances expire. widened. Old Bridge Village is located on Bay Drive South near the Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar.

The Bridge Tender Inn, Drift In, Blue Marlin Grill and Wicked Cantina are among the Bradenton Beach establishments that have expanded their seating areas under City Ordinance 21-533. The city commission passed the ordinance in June 2021 to help local businesses recover from the pandemic. Ordinance 21-533 continued and expanded the abatements initially granted by the adoption of Ordinance 20-516 in May 2020.

COVID-19 in Manatee County

1st May

Case 185

% Positivity 10.41%


% Eligible population vaccinated 71.9%

New Hospital Admissions 13

May 8

Case 493

% Positivity 13.13%


% Eligible population vaccinated 72%

New Hospital Admissions 13

Source: CDC

The 2021 ordinance states: “Retail businesses, restaurants and food establishments may extend dining and retail areas to certain privately owned areas that are not generally permitted for dining and retail space. retail, such as setbacks, aisles and parking areas. The expanded area cannot be used for anything other than merchandise or seating. All other uses, such as outdoor entertainment, in these areas are prohibited. Outdoor entertainment can only be located in areas previously used and licensed prior to the passage of Ordinance 20-516.

“Retail businesses, restaurants and food establishments can convert up to 50% of private on-site parking spaces into outdoor restaurants and retail businesses. All other uses, such as outdoor entertainment, in these areas are prohibited unless a variance is requested and approved by the city commission.

The ordinance continues: “Tents may be erected to provide shade for the dining hall. All tents or shade structures must be removed within 12 hours of the declaration of a state of emergency, or immediately upon request by City staff due to unsafe weather conditions.

The order established a registration process for businesses to begin or continue using expanded outdoor seating areas.

Expiry requested

The Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar’s expanded lounge area includes a temporary tent-like structure at the south end of the property that houses live music performances.

Residents call for expanded outdoor seating to expire
The Bridge Tender Inn’s outdoor seating area has been expanded during the pandemic to include the additional covered seating on the right. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

Speaking to the commission, Herard said: ‘I live on the third floor facing the Bridge Tender and I can’t dine out or have a conversation on the veranda because the music is so loud. When we watch TV at night, we close the door, close the windows and have to turn up the TV louder than you normally would because the music is so loud. It’s been going on for two years now. I think we have to find a way for businesses and residents to coexist.

Herard said he and his wife moved into their condo in 2018 and enjoy living within walking distance of local restaurants and businesses.

Residents call for expanded outdoor seating to expire
Old Bridge Village resident Bruce Herard wants the Bridge Tender Inn to move its live music indoors. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

“The Bridge Tender also had music at the time, but it was inside. We could hear it, but when it’s indoors, it doesn’t affect the quality of your life experience,” he said.

“Manatee County (COVID-19) transmission levels are low. There are no CDC requirements that restrict anything related to restaurant seating requirements and operations. Bridge Tender music should come back inside as 21-533 is now expired,” Herard said.

Speaking to the commission, Bell said, “Orders 20-122 and 21-533 have served their purpose. Bruce wanted to talk about one place specifically, I wanted to talk about all of them.

Bell noted that the expanded seat allocations granted in 2020 and 2021 were not meant to be permanent.

“People told me that if the tents go up they will never come down, and that’s what we saw. I told people that the tents would not be building code compliant and that’s why they would be temporary. They would not become permanent structures. They are a safety issue for residents and visitors and now we are seeing more tent hardening. They’re posting more and more and the executives are growing around them,” Bell said.

Residents call for expanded outdoor seating to expire
Old Bridge Village resident David Bell noted that restaurants are no longer subject to COVID-19 related seating restrictions. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

Citing language contained in Order 21-533, Bell said, “This order will expire and be deemed to have been revoked once all COVID-related limitations on restaurant and retail outlet operations impacting occupancy capacity or social distancing requirements will no longer be a Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation. Alternatively, the city board may terminate the ordinance in a notified public hearing.

Bell then noted, “It’s CDC related and all restrictions have been removed. I checked with the county. There are no restrictions. I respectfully request that you take steps to remedy this expired order by terminating it.

Residents call for expanded outdoor seating to expire
The Wicked Cantina utilized the city’s expanded outdoor dining allowances. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

In response to public comments, Mayor John Chappie said he would put the issue on the agenda for the commission meeting on Thursday, May 19. This meeting will begin at noon and public comments from residents and business owners will be permitted.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that COVID-19 cases in Manatee County rose from 185 on May 1 to 493 on May 8.

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