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Some Restaurants Balk at Outdoor Dining Permit

Sweetwater and Perfectly Franks will remove outdoor tables rather than obtain permit with Summerville.

Possible fines and jumping through hoops have some restaurants not applying for the town's new outdoor dining permit.

Two of Main Street's busiest and visible restaurants will not obtain a permit through the town — instead choosing to remove their current tables by next week.

Gone will be 's two cement tables and benches, and gone will be  three metal tables and chairs with red umbrellas. Sweetwater's tables have been outside since 2001, offering a seat to patrons and passers-by alike. 

The Town of Summerville codes enforcement officer issued both businesses a citation early this week to remove their outdoor dining tables or face a fine since they did not file a permit with the town by July 1, according to the owners.

Both owners said the ordinance needs more consideration before they sign up.

"I'm uncomfortable with it," Sweetwater owner Chris Bauer said. "I don't see the necessity of jumping through all these hoops."

Perry Cuda, owner of Perfectly Frank's, agreed.

"We have enough problems running small businesses as it is," Cuda said, adding that the extra headache wasn't worth it, especially in July when no one wants to sit outside in 100-degree heat. He said he might explore obtaining a permit in the spring.

Cuda and Bauer are not the minority, despite the permit being free. 

Only four businesses have obtained the outdoor dining permit, according to Mayor Bill Collins. Those are: , , Accent on Wine and . Collins said the town is working with Alessandra's and Oasis too. 

"It's free," Collins said. "We have passed an ordinance to have outdoor dining but you have to have a permit ... If (a restaurant) doesn't want to do that that certainly is their choice."

Previously, outdoor dining was ignored around town and not allowed by town statutes — even though Montreux's, Sweetwater and Perfectly Frank's all had outdoor tables. But earlier this year, . 

"I don't understand why it couldn't be left alone," Cuda said. 

Cuda and Bauer both expressed concerned about the ordinance's requirement for a professional drawing of outdoor tables, fines that could be levied if the tables were not in compliance and possible fees attached to the permit later on.

"Jumping off of the Cooper River bridge is free too, we just don't do it," Cuda said. "Why are we doing this when there's other things the town needs?" 

Ann July 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM
WOW! Free is great and it's so lovely to sit outdoors in our beautiful little town. In our HOA we're being fined for having 2 little security cameras on our house- $600 and climbing weekly. Wish we could have afforded to live in the town limits. Free is good!
Kaye Fox July 15, 2012 at 07:51 PM
We are trying to encourage business in our town. Why not leave well enough alone. Collins and the rest of the council don't you have better things to do? If it is free then what is the purpose? Your acting like babies..."Oh see what I can do?"
Karen July 16, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I don't get it. If the permit is free, why even pass a law saying that restaurants need one? I thought the idea of permits was to tax people to death.

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