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Front Page » Top Stories » Commissioners Give City Of Miami Liquor Laws More Bite

Commissioners Give City Of Miami Liquor Laws More Bite

Written by on May 29, 2003

By Susan Stabley
Miami commissioners gave city liquor laws more punch last week by rewriting the codes affecting restaurants, the first of many changes the administration said it would present.

Definitions for three new types of business were created: cafeterias, sandwich shops and coffee shops. All were previously regulated as restaurants, said City Attorney Alex Vilarello.

Those eateries will have to apply for new occupational licenses once the new liquor law is reviewed by the commission for a second reading. If approved then, the new law takes effect 30 days afterward.

Commissioners repealed sections of the city’s alcoholic beverages code, changing its definitions and adding requirements. They said the code didn’t adequately define food and beverage establishments, creating a confusing licensing system that is difficult to enforce.

"I want to make sure these laws have the teeth," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. He said the revisions were especially needed in his area, home to more than 100 small cafes. He said some of them have an "atmosphere of illegal activity" turning into bars at night where some go to gamble illegally on electronic machines.

Now, cafeterias, coffee and sandwich shops cannot sell alcohol after 10 p.m., Mr. Vilarello said.

Added to the law are requirements for restaurants, cafeterias and coffee and sandwich shops including:

nAt least 60% of each day’s gross revenue must come from food and non-alcoholic beverages.

nRecords of purchases and gross retail sales of alcoholic beverages must be maintained separately for three years and be made available to the city within 14 days if demanded.

nWritten menus should be able to be read by someone with average eyesight under existing lighting conditions anywhere in the service area.

nMost of the food listed in a written menu must be available while the business is open.

nNo alcoholic beverages can be sold after food service is closed.

Chief Administrator/City Manager Joe Arriola told the commissioners to expect to make language changes in four or five more ordinances to make them more enforceable.