Big Dog’s Patio threw a biker block party on May 11 without acquiring a single city permit. Now the city has been granted an injunction against the offending parties.
When the motorcycles began to roll into town on May 11, no one batted an eye. After all, events are held every week in the heart of Plant City, so why should this be any different?
Bright orange cones were used to block city streets, vendors set up shop in the middle of the roadway and men poured full pitchers of water on willing women during the advertised wet t-shirt contest.
The fun started to gravitate away from Big Dog’s, spilling into the streets as people drank, smoked, danced and enjoyed their night on the town. In fact, photos indicated alcohol was consumed within 500 feet of the bar, including in McCall Park.
It turns out, the elaborate event was thrown without any of the involved parties receiving a single permit from the city.
After taking the issue to court on June 3, the city was granted an injunction against the offending parties to make sure it never happens again.
Bar and property owners Eugene O’Steen and Maria Dugarte, along with Ron Galletti, the owner of sponsor Born to Ride Magazine, Big Dog’s Patio, which is a fictitious name registered with the Florida Secretary of State as owned by Palmer Street Liquors, Inc. and several other parties, were all summoned to court.
Three reached a joint stipulation prior to the hearing on June 3. When court was in session, however, only the plaintiff bothered to show up.
All of this could be have been easily avoided, attorney Martin Champagne said. There are procedures in place and if someone wishes to hold an event downtown they can follow those steps to obtain the necessary permits.
When Plant City Police was called to the scene around 4 p.m. on May 11, Officer Fiol turned the corner only to find his squad car blocked by cones. A man scurried over to remove them so Fiol could pass, but with all the blockage in the street he couldn’t make it very far. He got out of his car and walked past rows of vendors selling goods on North East Drane Street, North Palmer Street and in McCall Park, saw a motorcycle parked in a handicapped space under a tent in front of the building and once again turned to see the cones back in place blocking the street.
He approached a man that said he was with Born to Ride TV and Magazine. When asked if there was a permit, the man indicated Big Dog’s Patio had one and to ask them. So he did. The owner of Big Dog’s, however, told a different story. He said there was no permit, so Fiol informed him they were breaking city ordinances.
The man immediately asked what to do and, as Fiol pointed out all of the problems, nearby attendees sprang into action. The vendors moved to the sidewalk and the park and the motorcycle was moved. But the party still was violating several city codes.
The kicker? A flyer on the Born to Ride Facebook page advertised the event as one that would occur the “second Saturday of every month!! Next date: June 8th.” Big Dog’s was planning to host it again.
When Code Enforcement Manager Tray Towles was asked in court if the city had received a request for permits from any parties listed for the advertised upcoming events, he gave a resounding “no.”
The court filing said the event drew more than 100 people to downtown. Photos on the Born to Ride Facebook page indicated just how festive the crowd became.
Towles looked through the photos and pointed out the many violations. He explained to the court that Big Dog’s Patio was aware of the permitting process because it held a Mac & Cheese Festival in January 2018.
The Mac & Cheese Fest also had its fair share of hurdles. Originally, bar manager Dominick Sinopoli wanted to hold the event in December 2017. Commissioners denied the permit due to other events taking place the same weekend.
Sinopoli told the Observer he was “disappointed by the city’s decision, but not discouraged.” He said then the delay was partially due to him not understanding the extent of the permitting process. By December he had figured it out and the application was approved for the January event.
Now, thanks to the granted injunction, the court has stopped Big Dog’s Patio from “throwing unpermitted illegal special events in the city without obtaining required permits.”