Polk bar owner wants booze rules changed

Posted at 8:09 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 20:09:20-05

The lack of Sunday morning alcohol sales is hurting some Polk County bars and stores now that nearby Lakeland has changed its liquor rules.

Two months ago, the City of Lakeland made a change to its ordinance, allowing bars and stores to sell alcohol starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday instead of noon.

Establishments just outside the city limits must still adhere to the county rules of not serving alcohol until noon.

"I used to have customers sitting in my parking lot waiting for me to open on Sunday. And now they can go elsewhere," said TIm Louzon, Owner of Isle of Capri Restaurant and Pub just outside the city limits.

He said his Sunday customers are now driving a couple blocks away to the city and buying what they need there.

"I'm just a small businessman trying to support my family, and this is really hurting me now," he said.

On one part of Main Street in Lakeland, one side of the road is in the county and the other side is in the city.

That means Shop Sharp Food Mart is losing a lot of business to the store right across the street because his customers don't want to wait until noon.

Louzon is now leading the push to get Polk County up to Lakeland's level.

This week, he went in front of the county commission armed with a petition signed by area bars and stores.

Now, County Commissioner Melony Bell said she plans to bring the issue up during the agenda study session Friday morning.

"This issue needs to be studied," she said.

Louzon said his sales on Sunday are down more than 15 percent ever since the rules in Lakeland have changed.

He says he's not the only one.

"That ought to tell the commission that there is overwhelming support for this change," he said.