by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
photo by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
The Tipsy Turtle Bar and Restaurant, formerly known as The Jac Island Bar & Grille, was given unanimous approval Tuesday, Dec. 1, by the Sanibel City Council for a six month extension on its entertainment license.
Council typically issues an entertainment license for one year and makes an evaluation prior to renewing the license. Last year, council approved the license with the condition of live music indoors only. The request for outdoor music was denied.
City Manager Judie Zimomra said city staff recommended renewing the Tipsy Turtle’s license for six months with the same conditions based on its history throughout the past year.
Documents show the city interacted with Tipsy Turtle Owner Eve Alvez and General Manager Nick Williams on approximately five issues from July to October.
Three of those items directly related to entertainment activities – a Fourth of July event in violation of the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency ordinance and live outdoor music prohibited under the restaurant’s entertainment license. The events were canceled or altered to be in compliance.
The Sanibel Police Department received three complaints in five months over patrons not wearing masks and overcrowding, but no violations were found. Sanibel Police also issued a verbal warning after a complaint over loud music. There was one complaint over fire code violations, but Sanibel Fire & Rescue District did not find any issues.
Documents also show four code enforcement cases against the business between February and October ranging from Brazilian pepper on the property and a dumpster in the wrong location to lighting and temporary sign violations. All of those issues were corrected.
Alvez told council members she took responsibility for the outdoor entertainment issues. She said she “wasn’t thinking of the license, but thinking of keeping everyone safe” by hosting the music outdoors. She added that face coverings are required inside the restaurant and staff wear one throughout their shifts.
Bar Manager Shawn Donnely said he reached out to the restaurant’s neighbors and asked they contact him with any concerns or complaints. “We want to be a part of the community and not cause any issues,” he said.
Councilman Richard Johnson said he was happy to hear Alvez and Donnely want to be a part of the community and good neighbors. “That speaks loudly on your behalf. I would use this six month period to do exactly that and show what you can do.”
Johnson said the city has heard more complaints about the Tipsy Turtle than all other similar island businesses combined. “I would like to see that calmed down.”