A Red Road pizza restaurant will be allowed to sell beer and wine if South Miami commissioners approve changes to their liquor ordinance.
Pizza Rustica asked for the change because the restaurant, 6800 SW 57th Ave., is only 200 feet from First United Methodist Church of South Miami. The city’s ordinance does not allow liquor to be served within 500 feet of a church or school.
Commissioners have tentatively agreed to change the ordinance so that the 500-foot rule will not apply to businesses on three major thoroughfares: Red Road, Bird Road and U.S. 1. The exception would apply only to businesses that have no bar, serve food, and generate no more than 40 percent of their revenue from alcohol.
The exception would cover only beer and wine consumed in the restaurant; no mixed drinks or take-out drinks would be allowed. And beer and wine sales would be allowed only from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Many South Florida restaurants rely heavily on beer and wine sales to make their businesses profitable.
“It’s just very stressing because I’ve been trying to deal with this for about a year and eight months,” said Julian Sellek, president of Pizza Rustica in South Miami.
Mayor Phil Stoddard sponsored the changes but asked the City Commission to put off final approval Tuesday. He said the city planner wanted to do some additional research. The changes are now set for a final vote Jan. 21.
Stoddard said he hasn’t heard complaints from the church regarding other nearby alcohol outlets.
“We know that just up the street from them (the church), in the Gables, is the Titanic Restaurant & Brewery, and (the church) hasn’t complained about that, as far as I know,” Stoddard said. “Directly across the street is a Mobil Station, with a triple deli cooler full of discount beer.”
Stoddard also said that he had a discussion with Cathy Felber, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of South Miami, regarding the sale of alcohol.
“Previously, I spoke with Pastor Cathy and she said she just opposes alcohol on general principles,” Stoddard said.
Reached by a reporter, Felber declined to comment on the proposal saying she was unfamiliar with it.
Sellek added that he would be able to start serving alcohol at Pizza Rustica a week after the commission votes to let him do so.
“Every Pizza Rustica has beer and wine,” Sellek said. “We are the only ones that haven’t been allowed for five years. I’m only trying to survive. I’m not trying to make great wealth. I’m very grateful for the opportunity that the mayor and vice mayor and council have given me. I greatly appreciate that.”