PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Around 1990, it became illegal to sell alcohol or food on the sandy beach within the Panama City Beach city limits.
Beach City Council members are considering changes to the law.
They have three options.
They could leave the law as it is. City Council Member Mary Coburn thinks they should choose that option.
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” Coburn said.
Another option is to open up food delivery on the beach to everyone including vendors like Door Dash and others.
“Cons to that are if they park on someone’s property they’ll be trespassing going to that beach or they’ll be blocking accesses or they’d be parking in the road while they’re running down to the beach,” City Manager Drew Whitman said.
The most favorable option so far is allowing licensed restaurants to create an app or phone number to take food delivery calls.
“I think the option is great because you never want to stop someone from having sales,” Hook’d Pier Bar and Grill Cristine McLaughlin said.
While restaurant owners like McLaughlin prefer to have a choice to potentially make more revenue, some may not take advantage of it.
Employees could be working in triple-digit heat, running back and forth in the sand.
“Probably isn’t the easiest job to fill,’ McLaughlin said. “They have to be strong and healthy.”
Mayor Mark Sheldon said many local restaurants, not including Hook’d, said they’re already too busy and understaffed.
“Every one of them that I spoke with was in favor of it and many of them said I’m not going to do it but it’s good commerce and it’s a good service to provide,” Sheldon said. “And that’s what we are. We want Panama City Beach to be the World’s most beautiful beaches which we know it is. This is a good service for us to give to people who come and visit our beaches.”
If council members approve the change, businesses that choose to offer food on the beach will be responsible for raking their beachfront and removing trash daily.
If they don’t comply, they could face fines.
The city council is waiting on their lawyer to create an ordinance, then they’ll vote.