TAMPA — Outpost, the restaurant formerly know as Frankie’s just outside the University of Tampa campus, could soon add mixed drinks to its menus despite the objections of neighbors and the university.
By 6-0, Tampa City Council gave preliminary approval to an expanded alcohol permit for the business at 909 W. Kennedy Blvd. that would let it add liquor to the beer and wine it already serves. The permit needs another vote in two weeks to become final.
Council Chairman Charlie Miranda recused himself from the discussion and the vote because his son, Frank Miranda, was an attorney for the Outpost’s owners.
The vote was taken after more than an hour of back-and-forth by the Outpost’s owners and those who opposed their permit expansion. It was just the latest in a continuing debate at council meetings over where and when to let businesses serve alcohol.
The Outpost’s proposal, which has been pending for several months, drew opposition from residents and university officials, who accused the business of targeting UT students with advertising and drink specials. Two students were recently arrested trying to buy alcohol with fake ID’s at the Outpost.
Neighbors also decried the notion of having even more drinking in their area.
“It’s not the beer and wine,” said UT attorney Gina Grimes. “It’s the liquor.”
The property occupied by the Outpost has been zoned for beer and wine for decades, the owners argued. Recent years have brought several other restaurants to the UT area, and keeping Outpost from adding liquor put it at an economic disadvantage, Michael D’Augustine, the Outpost’s managing partner, told council members.
After running into opposition from neighbors and the city in January, the Outpost’s owners came back Thursday with new plans that included no amplified music outside after 11 p.m.
The restaurant still needed an exemption for the city’s parking requirements, which demanded 23 spaces. It had 20. The owners agreed to add spaces along Edison Avenue along the west side of their property, though they got no direct benefit from them in their permit.
They also agreed to a fire marshal ruling limiting them to a maximum of 60 customers inside and 32 outside, which is the limit the Outpost has already. The owners had hoped to double that limit, but couldn’t get the off-site parking to support it.
Grimes argued that the change in the Outpost’s permit will eventually turn it into a full-fledged bar, making most of its money from alcohol instead of food.
Councilman Mike Suarez told Grimes she was speculating about something that might not happen. But if it does, the owners of the Outpost will have to account for it to their insurance company as well as the city, he said.
“You’re getting the cart before the horse,” he said.