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Bistro Joe’s facing issues with too many seats

By Grace Lovins

During the public hearing for annual liquor license renewals in Birmingham on Monday, March 18, city commissioners voted to have Papa Joes’ Bistro Joe’s, located at 34244 Woodward Avenue, return to the board after commissioners expressed concerns over the bistro’s violations of their special land use permit.

Commissioners initially reviewed the annual liquor license applications at a previous meeting on Monday, February 12, during which nine of the city’s bistros were found during inspections to be in violation of various rules by the city’s planning division. A public hearing was set for the commission to determine if they would file an objection to the bistros’ state liquor license applications.

According to planning director Nick Dupuis, all of the bistros worked to resolve or come close to resolving all or most of the issues brought up during the city’s inspection. Bistro Joe’s was found to have issues with excessive indoor seating, the dumpster areas and parking lot.

The dumpster area and parking lot issues are being addressed, said Dupuis, but he noted that he found “a little too much evidence” that patrons of Bistro Joe’s were using additional seating in the mezzanine intended for Papa Joe’s customers. According to the meeting packet, Bistro Joe’s has been using almost 50 seats more than what was permitted under their special land use permit. Dupuis was told that the seating was used for employees to sit during breaks.

Tony Curtis, owner of Papa Joe’s, commented on the issue saying this is the first time the bistro has been cited for this issue, and the manager had been fired for breaking the rules. Commissioner Therese Longe said she remained concerned over the discrepancy between what the additional seats were said to be used for and what they were actually used for.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the renewal of the liquor licenses for all establishments except for Bistro Joe’s in a 6-0 vote, with commissioner Anthony Long absent from the meeting. In another unanimous vote, the commission set another public hearing for Bistro Joe’s on Monday, April 15, for the commission to approve the liquor license and to consider whether the special land use permit has been violated.


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