ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Spencer Hooker owns The Kookaburra in St. Augustine. It's a café.
"We do coffee, espresso and Aussie meat pies," Hooker said.
His tiny but popular business is at the bottom of a building located next to the Cathedral Basilica in downtown St. Augustine.
"Beer goes well with Aussie meat pies," Hooker said. "We'd love to be able to carry beer and wine here."
But, according to city law, he can't sell beer because his business is too close to a church.
"We happen to be 63 feet away from the Cathedral Basilica. We measured it out," Hooker added.
The current city ordinance prohibits sale or consumption of alcohol within 100 feet of a church or school.
When Wells Fargo recently moved out of the building on Cathedral Place, the city said the building's owner considered a restaurant.
"There's no restaurant that will survive downtown, really, if you don't have alcohol or beer and wine sales," city Planning and Building Director Mark Knight noted.
The issue prompted the city to consider changing the law.
The changes would allow for restaurants to sell alcohol within 100 feet of a church if 50 percent of more of the sales are from food.
"You can do an annual report to ensure they're selling more food than alcohol," Knight added.
The priest at Trinity Episcopal said if it's monitored, he does not have a problem with the proposed change.
The minister at Grace United Methodist was unavailable for comment.
The diocese of St. Augustine over the cathedral said it needed information in writing from the city before making a comment.
Knight said those are the only three churches that would feel an impact downtown.
Hooker hopes the change will happen.
"Anything the city can do to encourage more of these establishments is beneficial for all of us," he said.
The city commission is expected to discuss the issue at a meeting in June.
First Coast News