St. Pete Beach residents worry about noise from new Caddy’s restaurant on Intracoastal Waterway

The former Silas Dent’s Steakhouse is next door to several condo buildings and homes, raising fears that revelers may be too raucous.

An aerial view of the inlet at St. Pete Beach leading to the back of the former Silas Dent's restaurant (the building painted yellow) showing the four-story condo on the north side and homes along 55th Avenue on the south side. [Edward Stapor photo]
An aerial view of the inlet at St. Pete Beach leading to the back of the former Silas Dent's restaurant (the building painted yellow) showing the four-story condo on the north side and homes along 55th Avenue on the south side. [Edward Stapor photo]

ST. PETE BEACH — Plans to renovate and convert the former Silas Dent’s Steakhouse into a Caddy’s restaurant and bar have raised the ire of potentially hundreds of nearby residents.

Residents of a waterfront, four-story condominium and a smaller condominium and a number of homes facing the inlet and the restaurant’s rear fear noise from Caddy’s would echo across the water.

Several voiced their objections during a recent City Commission meeting and are now organizing to fight the city in court if it allows the restaurant to have open-air access to the rear of its bayside building on Gulf Boulevard just north of 55th Avenue.

The residents are pushing for a formal, public hearing on the restaurant renovation, while city officials insist there is no legal reason barring the city administration from granting a permit and absolutely no reason for a conditional use permit as demanded by some residents.

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In a letter to the city, resident Ed Stapor said “the merits of the residents’ arguments have not been considered rigorously nor taken seriously.”

He says there are nearly 600 households within hearing distance of the restaurant.

At issue are the type of window openings planned for the building’s rear wall that faces a narrow inlet from the Intracoastal Waterway.

“It’s a very small bay and all the noise would ricochet between the buildings. It would be like a sound chamber or tunnel,” said resident Mike Minuto.

He and other residents have met with and corresponded frequently with city officials, including the mayor, the city attorney and planning officials, as well as the restaurant owner.

Stapor said area residents “categorically oppose” any renovation that would allow use of the restaurant’s dock for boating customers or gathering of patrons on the rear of the property.

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“They (restaurant operators) intend to use the rear and dock for their typically rowdy crowd,” resident Gerald Suetholz told the commission last week.

That will absolutely not happen, according to one of the restaurant owners, Marcus Winters, whose JWC Holding group also owns Caddy’s on the Beach in Treasure Island as well as MacDinton’s in St. Petersburg and Yard of Ale in Tampa.

A rear door is only an emergency exit, he says, and inside dining tables will be next to a single open-air window allowing patrons seated at the rear of the restaurant to “enjoy Florida’s wonderful fresh air”.

There is a single dock that boating patrons will be allowed to use, just as occurred at the former Silas Dent’s, according to Winters.

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He says there are no plans to add any docks, much less the eight docks publicized last year.

Once the city approves plans for the restaurant renovation, it will take about three months to complete.

“This will be a family seafood restaurant with an open window to the water,” Winters said.

Any outside dining will be restricted to the front of the restaurant.

“We are trying to put the people at ease. It’s very important that they know we never set out to upset anybody,’’ Winters said. “We don’t intend to break any city regulations.”

In its latest set of comments, the citys’ community development department reminded Winters that city codes prohibit “exposing neighboring residents to offensive noise and audible music, and adverse impacts from lighting and vibration.”

Winters said there may be some live music in the evenings, but the musicians will be positioned at the front of the restaurant, some distance away from the single open window.

Earlier plans for the building’s renovation included the replacement of two groups of fixed, closed windows on the rear of the building with two roll-down, garage-style windows that would expose the interior directly to the open air.

This article was originally published in the Tampa Bay Times on Jan. 16, 2019.

Mullane Estrada is a correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times.