Last call extended in Hannibal Square
Closing time for some restaurants moved to 2 a.m.
After more than 20 years of having to call it an early night, some restaurants in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square district will be able to keep the alcohol flowing until 2 a.m.
Commissioners have unanimously approved an ordinance for the hours extension for restaurants on West New England Avenue, which include Chez Vincent, Hannibal’s, Armando’s, Mynt and Pepe’s Cantina. It will go into effect after approval at a second reading.
The issue was tabled in October amid concerns from some commissioners over making sweeping changes throughout the district to the ordinance that was put in place to
protect nearby residents.
The early closing hours — 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends — were enacted in the mid 1990s in response to some businesses in the district that weren’t “neighborhood friendly,” the city previously said.
But restaurant owners Vincent and Teri Gagliano, who opened Chez Vincent in 1997, told commissioners that the ordinance was an unfair practice and was limiting their ability to do business. Nearby Park Avenue
restaurants are able to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. except Sunday, when closing time is midnight.
“We’re not asking for any favors, privileges — we just want to be treated like everyone else,” Vincent Gagliano said.
In addition to the alcohol ordinance, commissioners amended the noise control ordinance for the entire district, which was capped at 11 p.m. and is now an hour earlier, to match the rest of the city.
Chez Vincent and Dexter’s were the first restaurants to set up shop in the district during the late ’90s amid revitalization efforts by the city’s community redevelopment agency.
Dexter’s — known for its live music performances — recently moved to the Ravaudage development, providing the prime opportunity to amend the noise ordinance, city planner Jeff Briggs said.
“Even though it sounds like we’re losing protections for the residential area, you’re really gaining protections of the 10 o’clock cutoff for live music that might be bothersome,” he said. “It’s a balancing [act] that staff believe is going is going to be better off for the residents.”
But several Hannibal Square residents who spoke at the meeting last week asserted that the extended drinking hours would cause further disturbances in the neighborhood and pointed out that it’s still unknown what will take Dexter’s place.
“I don’t think it’s going to be OK,” LaWanda Thompson said. “I think the premise is the residents want a quiet neighborhood no matter who comes down there and we should stick with that.”
Hannibal’s, on West New England Avenue, will be allowed to remain open till 2 a.m., under a new ordinance.