Formerly a dirty lot, this beer garden caused controversy

Formerly a dirty lot, this beer garden caused controversy

Courtesy of the Point Breeze Pop-Up

Point Breeze Pop-Up beer garden reopens after shutdown, again

The Point Breeze Pop-Up garden will re-open for business this weekend after more than a week of being shut down.

On Friday afternoon, PBPU owner John Longacre filed an emergency petition asking municipal Judge Nina Padilla to reinstate the emergency injunction that had allowed the beer garden to reopen after the first time it was shut down (yes, this did all happen before).

Padilla granted temporary relief that allowed the PBPU to reopen even while L&I’s appeal of her initial ruling is pending appeal to Commonwealth Court. She gave lawyers for L&I until Monday afternoon to file a response to her temporary relief.

The development is just the latest volley in a ping-pong battle waged by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, which is attempting to shut down the PBPU for what officials claim is improper zoning.

Longacre maintains he does not need a zoning variance for the garden even though it is located in a residential (RM-1) zoned area, since it is operating under a temporary catering license issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

L&I originally shut down the PBPU with a July 8 cease and desist order citing improper zoning. Longacre went to municipal court and had the order overturned, and then reopened on July 10.

On July 16, L&I appealed the original ruling to Commonwealth Court, effectively putting the municipal ruling on hold and setting the cease and desist back into effect, closing the garden. Now, Longacre has temporarily won another round, though the situation may change next week.

The crux of the issue is whether municipal zoning requirements supersede  the state-issued temporary licenses. These permits were made possible by PA Legislature’s Act 116 of 2012, and were ostensibly designed to allow current liquor license holders to serve at temporary events that would never require a zoning change — a wedding, for example.  Savvy bar owners realized they could stack dates for the temporary licenses back-to-back, an innovation that led to Philly’s newly flourishing pop-up beer garden scene.

Beer gardens now operating under similar licenses include the two PHS gardens (at 1438 South Street and Ninth and Wharton) and the Uptown Beer Garden at 1735 Market Street. The former two have never been cited by L&I, but the Uptown Beer Garden was temporarily shut down in early July after an L&I inspector told owner Teddy Sourias (Bru Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn) that he was lacking permits for his beer trailer and his toilet trailer. Uptown reopened on July 15 after Sourias obtained said permits.

It hasn’t been as easy for Longacre (who also owns South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar, both nearby).

His Point Breeze Pop-Up beer garden caused some unrest before he even opened it, possibly related to fears about encroaching gentrification. Despite the stumbling block, the garden launched on May 16. Then, after six weeks of normal operations, the cease and desist order arrived.

As of now, the garden will be open Saturday, July 25 from 2-11 PM.

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