Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Monday, January 21, 2013
Olive oil shop seeks wine permit
Proximity to cemetery requires special approval

The latest Old Town business asking the city for permission to sell beer and wine hasn't opened yet, but the owner has already filed all the paperwork.

"I'd love to have it; it will drive up my revenue," said Mark Gambuzza, 44, a Brooklyn born and bred transplant to Key West who is setting up his shop Uva at 519 Fleming St.

Uva is set to open Feb. 1, selling gourmet olive oils, vinegars, seasonings and cheeses.

That's the same date that Gambuzza said he will sign the lease for the spot, vacated last year by the coffee joint Island Joe's.

Gambuzza and his wife, Dina, moved to the island about two years ago and this is their first business venture in the Florida Keys.

In order to sell glasses and bottles of Spanish and Italian wines, and possibly some craft beers, Gambuzza needs the city's Planning Board to grant a special exception for Uva, which sits within 300 feet of a church and cemetery.

Key West requires shop keepers within that zone to obtain permission before they may get a beer and wine license from the state.

Gambuzza's first step toward Planning Board approval is the Development Review Committee, a panel of city staff including Planner Don Craig whose Thursday meeting agenda includes his request. But the Planning Board has the final say on such requests.

Gambuzza said his neighbors, including St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Duval Street, know about his wine plans and have given their blessing.

"It's not a bar," said Gambuzza. "It takes a little bit of explanation. I'm strictly carrying Italian and Spanish wines and we'll do wine tastings."

Customers will be able to taste from flights of wine before purchasing a glass or a packaged bottle.

"There will be price ranges of wines," said Gambuzza, who worked his way up from dishwasher to cook in restaurants and has a business degree. "It doesn't mean expensive wines. I just want to concentrate on those areas, that no one really does."

Gambuzza's business is filed with the state's corporations database as Uva Wine, but he said this week that his shop will only be called Uva.

Another Old Town business, just a couple blocks away from Gambuzza's place, is also awaiting a Planning Board decision on its application for an alcohol sales special exception.

Glazed Donuts, 420 Eaton St., opened almost eight months ago with promises of supplying "gourmet" doughnuts in Old Town. In an application package to the city dated Nov. 28, the shop said it wants to add alcoholic beverages to "accessorize" its baked goods.

The director of Tropic Cinema, which also sells beer and wine, has asked the doughnut shop to only sell alcohol until 11 p.m. and not allow any carry-out sales. St. Paul's gave its approval of the idea.

The Planning Board's Thursday night meeting didn't include Glazed Donuts' request on its agenda.

Gambuzza said he will open without the wine and start selling his other edible wares, accepting the fact that City Hall may take a couple of months to rule.

"It might take until March," he said.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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