by Jeremy Morrison
Dogs have been welcome at Gulf Coast Brewery since the establishment opened in Pensacola earlier this year. But now it’s official.
This month, the Pensacola City Council gave its formal nod and approved the brewery’s permit request to allow dogs.
“So, we’re good to go,” said Gulf Coast Brewery General Manager Carrie Young.
Young set her permit request in motion this summer, after the brewery received a complaint that resulted in a phone call from the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. The department alerted her to a county ordinance that bars pets from establishments that serve food and drink, and allows for such animals to be impounded by animal control.
That didn’t sit well with Young. Neither did it sit well with some of her customers and friends, including state Rep. Doug Broxson, who turned the general manager onto a state law that allows local governments to allow exemptions to such a rule.
“The good thing about the cigar lounge in the brewery, you get a lot of politicians,” laughed Young.
Broxson encouraged Young to pursue the exemption. He said “be the person that wants to change it.”
As it turns out, securing a permit was fairly easy. The city of Pensacola already had something on its books, so it was a simple matter of approving Gulf Coast Brewery’s request — a matter that took city council just over a minute to accomplish at its Sept. 15 meeting.
“I don’t have a problem with them having pets, having dogs there,” Council President Charles Bare opened the discussion.
“I’ve been there several times,” said Councilman Andy Terhaar. “They have a large deck area out front, I think having pets there, dogs and stuff, would be a big benefit to them and the community as a whole.”
The council ended up giving its unanimous 8-0 approval. According to Vernon Stewart, the city’s public information officer, two other restaurants in Pensacola — The Oar House and Tijuana Flats — also hold a permit allowing for dogs.
In October, Escambia County will also take up the issue of a dog-friendly dining ordinance during county commissioners’ Committee of the Whole meeting. But according to county spokesperson Joy Tsubooka, whatever the commissioners decide won’t have much bearing on the brewery.
“The Gulf Coast Brewery is in the city and is not a business that we would be dealing with if and when we adopt an ordinance,” she explained in an email.
None of this changes too much at Gulf Coast Brewery. Except that some of the post-permit dog visitors have found an extra-welcoming atmosphere.
“I was like, ‘Yeah! I’m so excited, you’re legally allowed to be here!’” Young said.
The general manager said that she feels allowing dogs fosters an environment that her customers value — sipping beers on the deck with their four-legged friends. Plus, it will allow the brewery to host more events such as last spring’s Barks, Brews and Barbecue, which served to raise money for an area animal shelter.
Apparently there’s a lot of people that agree with this sentiment. An online petition Young launched that urges Escambia County to adopt a “dog-friendly dining program” currently has more that 16,000 signatures.
To learn more about Gulf Coast Brewery, visit the establishment’s website at www.gulfcoastbrewery.net