BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON SPEAKING OUT — Frank Chavez, owner of Pepe’s Cantina in DeBary, listens as Judy Burger expresses her concerns to the DeBary City Council about allowing alcohol to be served outdoors at the restaurant.

DeBaryites and visitors have a new place to dine and drink.

The DeBary City Council has given its blessing to Pepe’s Cantina to serve alcoholic beverages in its outdoor seating area, as well as inside.

“They want to be able to serve cocktails out on their front porch,” DeBary Growth Management Director Amye King told the City Council Feb. 16.

The council granted the business’s request for a special exception in its commercial zoning that would allow it to cater to its clientele on the outside. Pepe’s Cantina is at 54 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd., also known as U.S. Highway 17-92.

Not everyone was pleased with the restaurant’s plan.

“My main concern is the alcohol … the safety of my property and my neighbor’s property,” a neighbor told the City Council during the public hearing on Pepe’s request. “When the parking lot gets full, where are they going to start parking?”

But council members looked favorably on the proposal.

“I’m going to trust you,” Council Member William Sell told Pepe’s Cantina owner Frank Chavez. “I’m trusting you to do the right thing.”

“I don’t see this as much of a problem,” Vice Mayor Phyllis Butlien said.

Mayor Karen Chasez also supported the special exception.

“They are saying, ‘We will be a responsible neighbor,’” she said. “It faces [U.S.] 17-92, and it’s buffered by the rest of the building.”

The council unanimously voted to grant the special exception.

When Pepe’s reopened Feb. 18 with the right to serve alcohol outside, DeBary Neighborhood Improvement Officer Patti Monhollen said, she received no complaints about noise or rowdy behavior.

“Not one,” she told The Beacon.

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