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Point Breeze beer garden owner: ‘Dysfunctional’ L&I department shut me down

Tonight, no beers are pouring at the controversial Point Breeze Pop-Up Garden at 1622 Point Breeze Ave.

Proprietor John Longacre (South Philadelphia Tap Room, American Sardine Bar) wrote in an email to Billy Penn:

[Our beer garden] has now received a ‘Cease and Desist’ by order of Philadelphia License and Inspections. When the Inspector came out to inform us, he stated he had ‘absolutely no idea why they were shutting us down.

Longacre provided a copy of the cease and desist order, dated July 8, 2015. The document cited improper zoning as reason for the shut down.

The temporary catering license within which most of the Philly beer gardens operate does not require a zoning permit (the license was intended for temporary events, after all), so it is not a requirement.

Notwithstanding, Longacre says he applied for a temporary zoning permit last week. “When we called to check up on it Monday, we received no call back. On Tuesday we were told they lost our application. No, I’m not kidding. This is actually what they told us.”

The beer garden drew heated complaints from some neighborhood residents. Old or young, many of them fought the transformation of an empty corner because they saw its new incarnation as ground zero for encroaching gentrification, bringing with it commotion, activity and also stiffer regulation.

The move also drew the attention of state Rep. Jordan Harris, who called a community meeting to respond to complaints. He decided to intervene on the grounds that it was more than a city issue because of the involvement of a liquor license (issued by the state).

So, here’s the current situation:

There is now a poster up at the PBPU site. The local police have been notified that no activity is to transpire there by order of Philadelphia L&I.

It’s not easy for Longacre to give up on the beer garden after trying so hard to win neighborhood approval. He has already called “a State Senator, a PLCB Director and the Executive Director of the Licensed Beverage Association of Pennsylvania” to help bolster his case for keeping the beer garden open.

“This story is not about me or even the Point Breeze POP UP for that matter. It’s about a weak State Legislator and the most dysfunctional poorly managed city services department in the country,” he wrote.

An emergency injunction hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday.

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