Council Supports Outdoor Seating At RPB Brewery

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council recognized the world champion RPB 14U All-Star softball team on Thursday, Aug. 17. Photo courtesy the Village of Royal Palm Beach

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved a request that would allow outdoor seating at a local brewery, along with several additions to the village’s growing Art in Public Places program on Thursday, Aug. 17.

Royal Palm Brewing Company asked for permanent approval for outdoor seating and an expansion at its brewery and restaurant at 543 N. State Road 7, Suite 103, in the Commons at Royal Palm Shopping Plaza.

To do so, the village needed to increase the size limitation from 5,000 to 6,000 square feet for microbreweries, and also eliminate a prohibition on outdoor seating adjacent to residential zoning districts. Instead, outdoor seating could be granted by the village’s variance process.

George, Pamela and Geof Shetka, owners of Royal Palm Brewing, gave a presentation on the history and importance of granting the request.

“We are Royal Palm Beach’s first and only international award-winning brewery, bringing state and national recognition to our village,” Pamela Shetka said. “We celebrated our fifth anniversary in March 2023, and we continue to support our community in various ways, including this month’s Palm Beach County Back-to-School Food Drive.”

The company had outdoor seating from June 12, 2020, until March 21, 2022, due to special pandemic regulations. The owners found this adjustment allowed them to survive during those hard times, and cited how the extra space provides health benefits for patrons, in addition to the revenue for the business.

Councilman Jeff Hmara and Vice Mayor Jan Rodusky voiced support for the request, while Councilwoman Selena Samios was concerned about the noise in the nearby Bella Terra neighborhood, and also why the business didn’t move to a larger space when the opportunity came.

Shetka replied they had no written complaints and Bella Terra’s support. The issues with moving all came down to timing, and they were unable to take advantage of empty spaces, such as the vacant former Friendly’s building, due to code restrictions.

Village Manager Ray Liggins noted that modern microbreweries do not come with the odors, smells and big trucks that people associated with breweries in the past.

“The breweries have changed, and added the service part, and took it out of industrial and into commercial zones,” Liggins said. “They have proven to us in five years that they can co-exist in the commercial zone without offensive smells and trucks being significant.”

Samios was not swayed. She dissented in the 4-1 vote for approval.

Mayor Fred Pinto said that using the variance process will make sure that the current request doesn’t lead to problems in other areas.

“The whole concept of a local elected body having the ability to put in controls to protect our citizens, it’s one of the key functions that we serve, but part of doing that is we have to be practical and have a mechanism in place to address situations that come up that weren’t planned,” Pinto said. “We hate dealing with variances, but as an elected body, that’s one of our responsibilities. It gives us the opportunity to look at things on a case-by-case basis. Because we provided a variance to one establishment, doesn’t mean the next one is going to get the same thing.”

Also at the meeting, the Royal Palm Beach Public Art Professional Mario Lopez Pisani presented a request for the work of Wenqin Chen to be placed at 11601 Okeechobee Blvd. in the Crossroads shopping center, where the recent Publix retrofit triggered the requirement to add a piece of public art. The piece is part of a series called, “Life Continues in Space,” and the stainless-steel sculpture is titled “Growing #3.”

“The pieces are named by the artist to convey an eternal movement of substance in space. Basically, the sculpture’s shape records that movement in time, and his theory is that the human view of time and space is that when substance arises, space also arises. So, as substance moves, time is then the movement of the substance. Please do not ask me to explain that,” said attorney Janna Lhota of Holland and Knight, representing the developer. “Upon approval, we will get actual renderings, drawings from the artist of the piece, and we will show that to the village. Once those drawings are approved, we pay 100 percent of the cost.”

Fabrication of the structure will take at least two months. The intent is for the artwork to be installed in January 2024. The open, figure-eight sculpture is 11 feet, 5 inches tall with a base of 18 inches, but goes into the ground several feet for stability. The council approved the request unanimously.

The new Royal Palm Beach Village Hall building also triggered the need for a piece of public art. At the meeting, the council chose an artist based on the open call for the village’s own public art commission. The applicants were all rated, with local artists receiving a higher ranking. The top three artists were Beth Nybeck of Kansas City, Owen Morrel of Coral Gables and Vito Di Bari of Miami. The council chose to begin working with Beth Nybeck, who also had the highest rating from staff.

In other business:

  • The council granted a special exception approval for a new licensed massage therapy business at 675 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., part of the Royal Inn complex. The former nail salon location will be updated by Lilibeth Leon, and instead offer massage and facials available by appointment only, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. While it is located near the Royal Inn, services will only be provided in that specific bay, and not in hotel rooms.
  • Despite a lengthy consent agenda, the only items pulled for discussion involved the development of Crestwood North Park. The items amended the budget for the park by transferring $2.7 million into the fund for the park and set in motion the contract with Waypoint Contracting.

Before unanimous votes to approve these items, Samios asked for details on the changes to the park, since such a significant amount of funding was involved.

“We put a million-dollar placeholder to go after grants, and initially, when we applied, it started with basically a pavilion, playscape, basketball court and open fields,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh said. “As the project evolved, we brought on a designer. Parks & Recreation looked at the programs that we needed within the area, like pickleball, tennis and lighting the courts. By adding those facilities, we needed a little bit more parking.”

The site plan includes a reduction of around $600,000 from the original plan, because of the construction costs being particularly high at this point. With a seawall in place, plans also call for better accessibility by adding a walkway with railings. After a discussion with the surrounding neighborhoods, some royal palm trees were also added in lieu of the originally planned oak trees.

  • The council recognized the Royal Palm Beach 14U All-Star softball team for their recent achievements of winning both the Babe Ruth State Championship and Babe Ruth World Series Championship. “It is our express honor and privilege to be able to recognize tonight the girls 14U softball team. I want to tell you words alone cannot express how proud we are of you and how well you have represented the Village of Royal Palm Beach,” Pinto said. “I’m sure everywhere you played, you showed your ability not only to compete, but to compete and come out victorious. You showed the world what Royal Palm Beach is really all about.”
  • The property at 200 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., vacated by the Western Academy Charter School last year when that school moved to a new location, was approved as the new home of a public charter school designed specifically to serve children with autism. The Learning Center accepts students in pre-K through eighth grade currently and hopes to expand to other grades.
  • The former village property purchased by Paint Lux at 6846 Seminole Palms Drive received a small-scale comprehensive plan amendment to change the land use from open space to industrial. This falls in line with the original intent of the village when the remnant space was sold last year.