Town Targets Nervous Nellie’s

14
2016

On Monday, despite the Governor’s Executive Order that states local governments cannot limit how restaurants operate, the town of Fort Myers Beach has threatened Nervous Nellie’s with a $5,000 fine for a planned St. Patrick’s Day party. The town claims the business is in violation of the town’s COVID ordinance.

The owners of Nervous Nellie’s are planning to have three bands at their restaurant on Wednesday, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The bands will be playing on the restaurant’s property, just like any band plays at any other restaurant on the beach.

At Nervous Nellie’s, there’s a sign on the front door that reminds guests that masks are required. They will even provide masks if customers forget to bring them. Employees also wear masks.

It’s unclear where the town threat of a $5,000 fine comes from. The maximum fine on a business in the town COVID declaration is $500.

The town of Fort Myers Beach has had a mask mandate in place for about a year. Back in September of 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and said any mask fines that were issued to Floridians did not have to be paid. Town attorney John Herin has told the town council they can enforce their local mask and social distancing ordinance. The targets of the town have been mostly restaurants.

There has never been a mask mandate in Lee County or the State of Florida. COVID cases are continuing to decline in Lee County and the number of people receiving the vaccine is increasing all across the state and the country. Governor Ron DeSantis is now being praised nationally for how he handled the virus, while keeping the economy open. He’s even being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for 2024.

On Monday, a Code Enforcement officer took a printout of a Facebook post to Nervous Nellies which promoted their March 17th event (see below). That’s when the threat of a $5,000 fine was made. The code officer also told the owners they needed to apply for a special event permit, which is unusual because the bands will be playing on Nervous Nellie’s property. The code enforcement officer also warned the owners that they would be checking their business several times that day, although checking them for what was unclear.
If the town plans to go after Nervous Nellie’s on St. Patrick’s Day, they may choose to use their local COVID ordinance to target the restaurant for not keeping customers socially distanced. If that’s the case, the town may have to explain to the state why it’s doing so. Here’s an excerpt from the Governor’s Executive Order concerning restaurants: “Section 2. Right to Work and Operate a Business No COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or from operating a business. “Section 3. Restaurants. In order to safeguard the economic vitality of this state, any restaurant may operate as set forth below. A. Restaurants, including any establishment with a food service license, may not be limited by a COVID-19 emergency order by any local government to less than fifty percent (50%) of their indoor capacity. If a restaurant is limited to less than one hundred percent (100%) of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 emergency order must on its face satisfy the following: 1. quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirement on those restaurants; and 11. explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.

In recent weeks, the town has been targeting Times Square businesses as well, claiming their music is being played too loud.

14 COMMENTS

  1. […] It was just this week that the town of Fort Myers Beach went after Nervous Nellie’s for a planned St. Patrick’s Day party. Code Enforcement threatened the business with a $5,000 fine and told the owners they would be back several times to make sure the business was not violating the mask mandate and social distancing ordinance on the 17th. As of now the party is still on. When Florida reopened completely back in September, part of the Governor’s first Executive Order barred local governments from adopting and enforcing restrictions they saw fit. Local governments need to show the state proof why they are restricting businesses from operating at 100%. […]

  2. It looks like they are trying to use the Outdoor Special Events Permit Ordinance to deny Nervous Nellie’s of having the St Patrick’s Day Party, however the language of the ordinance states they are exempt. Section 22.3 of the Special Events Ordinance clearly spells out the exemption. They need to sue

  3. Once again the town manager a self proclaimed manger of all has his head filled with a money grab. Fire this jackass.

  4. These are “elected” officials whose heads have swollen from thinking they have the power to dictate. We live in a democracy in case you’ve forgotten. If you put your mask mandate and noise ordinance up for a vote from islanders, you would see what the “people” want. You know, the people who voted you in? You work for us, not us for you. Start doing the right thing for those who pay your salaries and get back to being a public servant.

  5. Well managed businesses are great for the community and critically important for its livelihood. They service the community. They provide jobs. They create tax revenue. Without businesses the Island is nothing.
    Then why the anti-business climate from Town Hall? It’s very perplexing to say the least.

  6. I worked at Nellie’s for five years. I have personally witnessed the way the town comes after Nellie’s. The standard for excellence at this restaurant on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 15. I have seen bogus complaints come in and every time management got on top of it and cleared it up. I was at the beach by the water on Thursday. It’s Spring break. There were wall to wall bodies. Hardly any masks, and even though you can’t drink on the beach or bring glass bottles, I saw beach patrol, nicely asking people to get rid of the glass. No fines, no warnings, no tickets, no masks being worn by beach patrol.

    The whole beach needs the tourism to feed their families and pay their bills. Back off these businesses that are locally owned and operated and give everyone they employee a chance to thrive and succeed!

  7. It appears that fort myers beach town council all have the need to show their power! I am sorry, but screw all of you who feel you can dictate my life or anybody else’s lives! Think it is time for the residents and venders to take a stand against the mayor and city council of Fort Myers Beach. Enough is enough, for all those fearing covid STAY HOME…. it really is that simple!

    • I love you, Sis!!! The EGO of FMB’s elected mayor and the town manager has reached an all time high. Since the island became a “Town” (If I recall correctly, 1999) the majority of people who have been elected proved they held minimal experience in such matters. It’s been one cluster Fu&@ after another. The past few years the bylaw enforcement officers have shown extreme bias and abuse of powers, causing many businesses and individuals to spend exorbitant funds obtaining legal representation to debunk their overzealous claims. It’s just out of control since COVID. The mayor and town manager should be forced to step down. The bylaw enforcement officers need to be FIRED!!! They are not representing or protecting their constituents choices but rather keeping their own agenda of “showing who’s BOSS”

  8. The Town council, Town staff, and attorney are out of control, they do whatever they want. They don’t appear to care about the businesses or the residents, why should they, they are not Ft Myers Beach natives or residents, when their jobs are over, they will be gone. There is only one person out of the five council members that is a native of Ft Myers Beach, and that is the Mayor. The Ft Myers Beach business owners and residents should be contacting him and telling him to get his council and Town staff and attorney under control. The Town council along with the Town staff have been a horrible choice for the Town. Send him a message to be the Mayor for the people and not Town Hall. If the businesses and residents organized a couple hundred people to show up at a Town council meeting, they would get the message.

  9. Another lawsuit in the works! This town manager, mayor and council are out of line. A fundraiser for the fines/legal fees could be useful if these ridiculous tactics continue. We must help fight against this!
    The continual harassment of the businesses for noise is also out of line! I hope NN goes forward with the St Pats festivities.

  10. It seems that Town Council wants to eliminate tourism. People come to the area to enjoy the outdoor restaurants and the live music. The Governor is working to ensure the state’s economy continues to flourish; Council is trying to stifle it!

  11. In regards to music being played too loud, music was being played from motorcycles outside the 7/11 across from the Lani Kai a few days ago. It was loud and obnoxious. I’m sure it was over the sound decibel set forth by the town. I stopped a deputy to tell him about it. I’m sure he did nothing since he probably doesn’t even know what our laws state!

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