The Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Aug. 10, 2020, ordered the emergency suspension of the alcoholic beverage license of Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill, 20041 U.S. 41 S., in Estero, Florida. (Photo: News-Press files)
An Estero bar is back in business after the state restored its liquor license.
Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill reopened last week after nearly two months, since the Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Aug. 10 ordered the emergency suspension of its alcoholic beverage license. The state had claimed Rusty’s violated the governor’s executive orders on social distancing.
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DBPR spokesman Patrick Fargason confirmed Wednesday that the emergency suspension orders were lifted for Rusty’s and eight other businesses across Florida. The nine were suspended between June 22 and Aug. 10.
“As of Friday, October 2, 2020, all nine ESO cases have been resolved through a final order; therefore, the nine ESOs that were entered have been vacated, and the suspensions have been lifted from each license,” Fargason said in an email to the Daily News.
Rusty’s in Estero, 20041 U.S. 41 S., last week had announced on its Facebook page that it was reopening.
“After 48 days of ongoing conversations and the added burden of paying for legal representation, Rusty’s in Estero was granted back its liquor license with no admission of fault and no findings of guilt,” said Matt Visaggio, MPA Principal, Visaggio & Co., in an email on behalf of Rusty’s early Wednesday evening to the Daily News.
“The agreement was reached prior to the phase three reopening.”
Phase 3 reopening in Florida began in late September.
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In August, the DBPR issued a seven-page state order suspending the liquor license. The state had said Rusty’s on Aug. 8 was open and violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ June 3 executive order that restaurants, bars and other vendors that serve alcohol must operate at half of their indoor capacity. The state order stated that Rusty’s capacity is 188, so 50% is 94 people.
However, the order read, more than 200 people were observed in Rusty’s on Aug. 8 included people “packed inside and standing shoulder-to-shoulder while congregating at the bar area being served while dancing on the dance floor.”
And a long line of patrons was outside Rusty’s awaiting entry, the order stated.
Rusty’s officials disagreed with the state’s findings at the time.
“Rusty’s takes the safety of its patrons seriously and abides by the health and safety protocol outlined by the CDC, DBPR, ATF and other governing agencies. As such, they continue to investigate what happened on the evening of August 8, 2020,” Visaggio said in the statement issued Aug. 10.
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“Security monitors the number of patrons allowed into the restaurant at any time so that Rusty’s can abide by the current regulations of the DBPR. Security advised that at no point did they allow occupancy to exceed 50%. Someone arrived at the restaurant to review occupancy per the DBPR order on August 8, 2020.
“Rusty’s restaurant management has camera footage of the entire evening,” Visaggio continued in the Aug. 10 statement, “which shows that at no point in time was there ever more than the maximum allowed under the Governor’s executive order as administered by the DBPR.
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In addition to Rusty’s, the other eight businesses that had their licenses reinstated are The Knight’s Pub, Le Palace Otown and Mathers, Shots and Joysticks in Orange County; Baja’s Beach Club and Pockets Pool and Pub in Leon County; The George and Dragon British Pub in Brevard County; Show-N-Tail the Legend in Bay County; and Pegasus Lounge and Package in Hillsborough County.
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