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Smaller Restaurants In Jacksonville's Historic Districts May Soon Sell Liquor

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Smaller restaurants in historic Jacksonville neighborhoods could soon serve liquor under a bill heading to the Florida Legislature.

Current Florida state law restricts liquor licenses to restaurants with 150 seats and 2,500 square feet, but Duval bill J-2 would lower the requirement in historic neighborhoods Murray Hill, Springfield and San Marco to 100 seats and 1,800 square feet.

Many restaurants in these neighborhoods have challenges with expansion because of historic designation restrictions. Because they are unable to add seating, this new bill would give those restaurants the opportunity to increase revenue while keeping the historic charm of the neighborhood intact.  

A similar law passed last year applied only to restaurants in Riverside and Avondale, and

City Councilman Jim Love said at least two restaurants in those neighborhoods have already applied for liquor licences. Love said he supports this bill because he wants smaller restaurants to have a better chance of success.

“Some of these restaurants work on a thin line, and that market that they get from selling liquor could put them into the black so they can stay open longer,” he said.

The Jacksonville City Council approved the bill at the end of January with full support. The bill will be sponsored in the House by Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville.

City Council does not have the final word on passing the measure because it’s an exception to state law, not a local ordinance.

Lenae Voellmecke, the coordinator for the Duval Legislative Delegation, said she expects the bill to be filed March 2.

“Then it will move to the local, federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, that is the committee that all local bills go through. If it passes there then it goes to the House floor, ” Voellmecke said.

The legislative session begins March 7.

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Contact Amy Hadden at or on Twitter at @AmyNHadden

Amy Glassman interned with WJCT News in the spring of 2017.