BRADENTON — A bar owner has his eye on Old Main Street just more than a month after City Council’s approval of another downtown drinking establishment drew the ire of neighbors.
Paul Kotlarcyzk, the owner of The Distillery, gained planning commission approval Wednesday for a special-use permit to open a lounge at 450 Old Main St., across from the county administration building.
The planning commission voted unanimously in favor of the permit and an alcoholic beverage license without discussion. The matters will go before City Council on Feb. 9.
On Dec. 15, City Council voted 4-1 to approve a new Irish-themed bar at 302 Old Main St. for Thomas Stynes, the owner of Rasher Tierney’s pub. Ward 2 Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey voted against that permit, questioning the direction of downtown development.
Residents and an administrator at Westminster Courtyard and a downtown church official also opposed Stynes’ application. They said an abundance of bar-goers threatens the safety of downtown after dark and attracts broken beer bottles and trash.
Sam Hershfeld, a member of the Realize Bradenton board of directors, asked in an e-mail, “Will we rename it Downtown Bradenton’s ‘Old Bar Street?’”
The addition of Stynes’ bar will bring the number of drinking establishments on Old Main Street to five. Two restaurants, Fav’s Italian Cucina and Fisherman Joe’s, also serve alcohol. No member of the public spoke against Kotlarczyk’s proposal Wednesday.
“We haven’t met any opposition yet,” Kotlarczyk said. “I expect there may be some. No matter what you do, there is some opposition. If I opened up a doughnut shop, I’m sure Richard Simmons would come down and say I was contributing to the obesity of America.”
Planning commission Chairman Jason Taylor said the concerns about downtown becoming overrun by bars and drinkers are overblown.
“I can tell you right now, I have spent a lot of late nights here,” said Taylor, whose Fawley Bryant Architects office is at the corner of 10th Street West and Manatee Avenue. “In my opinion, half of the complaints are unfounded.”
Taylor said in the past the only downtown inhabitants after 5 p.m. were “cops, Snooty (the manatee) and people in the Courtyard.”
“It’s change,” he said. “It used to be the government center or where people retired. Downtown is not going to be like that anymore.
“I’d love to see a little more diversity. But the more people see things are happening, you’ll have people wanting to come downtown.”
Kotlarczyk said he plans to close The Distillery’s current location at 108 44th Ave. E. The new bar, which will replace a photo studio, will serve food such as pizza and sandwiches late at night, an offering currently lacking downtown. There will be no live entertainment, at least at first, he said.
“We’re looking to downsize and effectively reduce our overhead,” Kotlarczyk said. “We see it as a positive addition downtown for patrons.”