Since opening last December, the Pinecrest Bakery quickly became the popular 24/7 go-to spot for coffee and Cuban pastries among locals, morning shift workers and night owls.
But when the bakery owners added in-store tables and chairs to accommodate its growing customer base, the village of Pinecrest said no and now the bakery has started a petition to get its tables and chairs back.
The family-owned Cuban bakery distinguished itself among the competition with its upscale, modern look. And the business is good. Within two months, the bakery opened a second location on Bird Road and was preparing to open a third location in Homestead.
However, the village of Pinecrest put a bit of a damper on their operations when it wouldn't allow the bakery to have in-store seating. The reason: there is not enough parking space for customers.
After receiving a complaint, the planning and zoning department sent the bakery a reminder notice, which is a request to bring the property into code requirements. Pinecrest Bakery complied and removed its tables and chairs.
Pinecrest Planning Director Stephen Olmstead pointed to Chapter 30, the land development regulations, of Pinecrest's code of ordinances which require the bakery to have at least one parking space for every 50 square feet of patron space, and at least one parking space for every 250 square feet of non-patron space.
The petition asks that the village of Pinecrest grant the bakery an exception, adding that restaurants in Coral Gables and Miami Beach are granted exceptions which do not comply with "strict" zoning codes.
Olmstead told Short Order that when the plans were originally submitted to the village prior to opening, they were submitted as plans for a retail bakery, not a restaurant, and was zoned accordingly.
In order to get their dining accommodations back, the bakery has two options: meet the requirements, which would be difficult to do without more construction to the parking lot, or have the village grant the bakery a parking variance, which would require an application, a public hearing and ultimately the blessing of the village board. Olmstead added that the second method is possible but would not be easy.
The village is working with the bakery to find a solution, though. Olmstead suggested to the owners that some lounge furniture and end tables would not violate the ordinance, nor would stools at the stand-up counter.
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Olmstead also said the planning department has prepared amendments to the zoning code that would help Pinecrest Bakery, but they have yet to be submitted to the zoning board for consideration.
The petition has received 240 signatures since it was created on July 22. The goal is 500. The more people who sign it, the better. Olmstead said if the bakery was to submit the petition and signatures with the application for the parking variance, he would consider it.