Almost as repugnant as the dimwitted cops who bluster on their puerile LEOAffairs.com website, the noxious fumes emanating from the outdoor barbeque pit at Northeast Second Avenue and North Miami Beach Boulevard four days a week are gag inducing. According to this food review on Miami.com, the “screened trailer on wheels” is the home of Bo Legs BBQ. It sits literally in the parking lot of Foxy Lady Laundry and draws crowds of barbeque lovers. Apparently the food critic sees nothing wrong with a little smoke mixed in with your freshly washed sheets.
While the owner’s story is a truly heartwarming tale of entrepreneurship and one man’s aspiration of the American Dream, rules are rules. It’s bad enough that we are being assaulted by a proliferation of so-called food trucks, which have become epidemic in Miami-Dade County (as well as other places, I’m sure). Unlike traditional restaurants housed in actual buildings, these “meals on wheels” are simply parked wherever there’s an empty spot, hang up a sign and sell prepared food, without the inconvenience of obtaining the proper permits, licenses and business taxes to the municipality in which they squat. On top of that, the owners of these roach coaches pay no rent or mortgage, and they are free to offer their goods at considerably lower prices to customers who would otherwise patronize established businesses that play by the rules. One also wonders if these food trucks are routinely inspected by the Health Department, or if they simply pack up and drive away if the authorities start poking around, and simply set up shop in a nearby community.
A full blown barbeque operation in the parking lot of a laundromat is beyond the pale.
I have no personal quarrel Kevin “Bo Legs” Dority, the owner of the BBQ. I applaud his ingenuity, and judging by the favorable review, it seems that his food is worthy of the critic’s lavish praises. But, rules are rules.
For starters, like every other restaurant owner on North Miami Beach Boulevard and surrounding areas, Bo Legs BBQ should be properly licensed by Miami-Dade County, the initial cost for the information alone starts at $99.00. This does not even include the actual fees for the various licenses and permits.
In addition, any established restaurant operator will tell you that this type of business must be housed in a permanent building, geared with proper restaurant equipment like commercial refrigeration, grease traps, sanitized and temperature controlled serving facilities, commercial grade dishwashers, and so on. A restaurant should also have sanitary bathroom facilities for its customers to use. To my knowledge, this business is lacking in all of the above.
Aside from the permitting and sanitation issues, the cooking facilities of Bo Legs BBQ emit billowing plumes of smoke across a major highway, i.e., North Miami Beach Boulevard, which poses a driving hazard with respect to visibility.
Any restaurant that serves food cooked in this manner needs to be equipped with a proper exhaust ventilation system in order to minimize this type of hazard. For example, the San Diego County government issued a publication from the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health in July, 2000, explicitly describing “Mechanical Exhaust Ventilation Systems, Design, Calculations and Operational Guidelines”. This publication is an exhaustive (no pun intended) mandate for restaurant owners to make sure they comply with all of California’s applicable codes and standards. I will assume that Florida, and specifically Miami-Dade County, has a similar laundry list for the compliance of local restaurant businesses as well.
It does not appear that Bo Legs BBQ complies with any of the rules and regulations established in Miami-Dade County. Has this business applied for the multitude of licenses from the Health Department or the Fire Department? Does it have a building permit, an electrical permit, a fire alarm permit, a parking lot permit, a sign permit, a plumbing permit, or any one of the many permits that local area restaurant owners and operators must carry? I don’t believe so. Just look how many permits are posted on this one restaurant in Lauderhill, Florida:
The owner of any small business, which is the life blood of our economy, will tell you horror stories about the hoops he or she must jump through to set up shop, maintain a viable operation and stay in business for the long haul. In the current economic environment, a small business owner has to literally make a fortune just to keep his head above water, much less turn a profit. Restaurant owners in our community are doing everything humanly possible to keep open and stay afloat until things turn around. They are facing a long, painful road toward an uncertain future. When Miami-Dade County and the City of North Miami Beach turn a blind eye to the nomadic food truck and parking lot barbeque camps in their midst, they are doing a horrible disservice to those legitimate businesses who are losing customers and money on a daily basis.
Mr. Dority and his ilk need to be forced into compliance by applying for the necessary licenses and fees and adhere to the various rules and regulations that all restaurant owners must follow. North Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County need to step up and protect its own laws and the rights of compliant business owners who follow the rules.
After all…rules are rules!
“Spreading the Wealth”