Sunday, August 30, 2009

Florence, Big Ed's, & the "Entertainment District"

Ed Sandlin (pictured) is a businessman. While we hope he enjoys what he does, we're certain that, like the rest of us, he needs to make some money while doing it. The problem with Sandlin's business is two-fold: It involves the highly regulated sale of alcoholic beverages and it involves those who consume these beverages on his premises.

According to a 2008 interview with Sandlin, officials of Florence have often targeted his business on what he calls a "witch hunt," seeking documentation of his compliance with the 51/49 law concerning the ratio of food sales to that of alcohol. Last Friday night, the City of Florence prevented Big Ed's from hosting a concert by the Grown Folks Band, citing fire laws and other concerns. His restaurant and lounge has been the scene of previous minor altercations between black fraternity members from UNA and Florence Police.

Yet, only one year earlier in August 2007, Sandlin offered his appreciation and thanks to the city for easing the usual off-street parking requirement for restaurants and lounges. Apparently as Sandlin's sales decreased, so did his thankfulness for the city's regulations controlling his business.

Florence Planning Director Melissa Bailey has stated the Entertainment District will not blossom overnight. Considering that most buildings in the Sweetwater area are neither larger than Big Ed's nor provide more entrances and exits, it may be that such an area will never blossom.

Photograph by Daniel Giles

What's up with this: The City of Florence is prepared to take a giant step in the battle against second-hand smoke. Kudos to them and props to Truly Cigars for providing smokers with a haven of their own.