Pop-Up Beer Garden In Residential District Can Stay---Even Without Use Permit

Friday, April 27, 2018 3:19 am
May 2018 - Volume 46 Number 5

A “pop-up beer garden” operating in a Philadelphia vacant lot survived the city's attempts to close it down; the city couldn't show that the beer garden was harming public health or safety, or that the beer garden was a public nuisance.

Facts: The owners of two bars and a liquor store partnered with the owner of a vacant lot in Philadelphia (collectively, the owners) to create a “pop-up beer garden.” The vacant lot is in an area of Philadelphia zoned for residential, multi-family use. The owners planned to run the beer garden during the summer with limited operating hours, the latest being 11 pm on Friday and Sat urday nights. They acquired liquor licenses, off-premises catering permits, health department permits, and permits for serving food and nonalcoholic beverages. The beer garden operated without incident during May and June 2015 as either a “membership party” or a fundraiser for local charities.

At the end of June, the City Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issued a notice of intent to stop operations unless the owners obtained a zoning permit explicitly allowing them to ope[..]