With more and more Main Street businesses adding outdoor dining to their menus, it only makes sense Trina Cooney, owner of Flanagan’s Irish Pub, would want to get in on the action, too.
After all, she already attempted to put tables in front of her establishment five years ago, but was quickly forced to remove them due to code violations, she said.
But the combination of a leaky awning and a recent relaxation of the outdoor dining rules led Cooney to readdress her situation with Bob Ironsmith, Dunedin’s economic development director, to learn how Flanagan’s could add al fresco dining.
“We are the only place in Dunedin without outdoor dining,” Cooney said. “I asked Bob why other restaurants could do it but we couldn’t, and he told me … I needed to have 5 feet of walk space to be wheelchair compliant.
“He told me if I removed the posts and the awning, then I would be able to add tables out front.”
Today, a crew will begin dismantling the aging awning, which will mark the start of the outside refurbishing project for Cooney.
After the old awning is removed, a new façade will go up. It will have a new sign, lighting and a new awning, and a fold-down bar with stools under the right window. Tables will eventually follow and will surround the lamppost on the other side.
Cooney hopes the entire project will be completed by early next year.
“During the daytime it hurts us the most. When it’s beautiful out … we’re losing business because people want to eat outside,” Cooney’s son and co-owner Dale said. “People don’t even know that we have food. Now they will.”
Trina Cooney is adamant that she is not doing this to make any kind of statement after being denied the right to add outdoor tables years ago.
“I don’t want to begrudge anyone else,” she said. “I just want a piece of the action.”