Governor signs Apopka liquor license bill

Apopka's CRD
The bill could spur restaurant development in Apopka's downtown core.

A local bill that could help with entertainment development in the downtown Apopka area got Gov. Ron DeSantis’ blessing Monday evening.

The Governor signed HB 1431, a local bill that came out of the Orange County’s House delegation, led by Republican Reps. Rene Plasencia and Keith Truenow. The bill expands the availability of “quota licenses” for liquor and other alcoholic beverages by restaurants in the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency District.

It allows for new liquor licenses to be obtained for restaurants with at least 1,800 square feet of space, seating for at least 80, and which get the majority of their revenue from food or non-alcoholic beverages.

Such licenses sell on the market for more than $100,000, making them almost impossible for small businesses to acquire, said Apopka Mayor Bryon Nelson.

The bill allows small restaurants in the redevelopment district to get liquor licenses for a fraction of that. The change should help spur development in the district, which is essentially Apopka’s downtown core mostly south of U.S. Highway 441, adjacent to City Hall.

“If they wanted, if they had seating for 80, they could pick up a liquor license. That would be perfect for us,” Nelson said.

“Obviously, that’s where they make their money. Restaurants make their money on food but they make a whole lot more on liquor, alcohol. It’s promoting small businesses within our CRA and gives them that, so they’re able to purchase that license for a nominal fee versus big money.”

Nelson envisions an emerging entertainment and dining area. The area has an anchor or sorts now, the microbrewery called Three Odd Guys Brewing Co.

“We said, let’s make it our CRA, which obviously is our area of most need,” Nelson added.

The bill flew through the Legislature, picking up only one “nay” vote in the House — from Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville — and no opposition in the Senate.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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