Poolside bars — as in, bars where a few inches of concrete separate the bottles from the water — may be legal in Las Vegas, but you won’t find any in Florida.
That’s ironic not only because Florida is a sunny tourism Mecca but because the top company that designs and builds poolside bars, Martin Aquatic Design Engineering, is headquartered in the Sunshine State.
Poolside bars have long been prohibited in Florida due to a Department of Health rule against serving food or beverages in or near public pools, but thanks to strong support from lawmakers and regulators, the company’s designs could soon debut at Sunshine State resorts.
Clearwater Sen. Ed Hooper and Winter Springs Rep. David Smith filed bills (SB 1044/HB 719) during the 2022 Legislative Session that would have forced DOH and the Florida Building Commission to develop health, safety, and construction standards allowing for swim-up bars.
Though neither bill made it to the Governor’s desk, DOH announced during the final week of Session it had begun the rule development process to allow swim-up pool bars at public pools throughout the state. Additionally, the Florida Building Commission is already in its regular code modification and update process.
The movement to legalize poolside bars was helped along by GrayRobinson lobbyists Robert Stuart, Chris Carmody, Chris Dawson and Jason Unger, who worked closely with Hooper and Smith during Session and are continuing to lobby on the issue during the rule-making process.
“From the start, we were so encouraged by the support of the Florida Legislature for removing this antiquated prohibition, knowing that Florida can and should be a leader for allowing these fun and profitable assets in a safe and healthy way,” Stuart said.
“We are grateful for the chance to work with the Department of Health and the Florida Building Commission as the standards are developed.”