PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Last year, shops and restaurants at the Shoppes at Edgewater were forced to close after rowdy crowds caused problems for law enforcement. The closure hurt local business owners.
“Last year we had to close down two nights, it cost me over $50,000 in revenue,” American Charlie and Firefly restaurant owner Dave Trepanier said. “I can weather that storm, but I have servers and people that live, week to week and paycheck to paycheck.”
So far this Spring Break season has been successful and disorderly conduct has not been a major issue.
“The last month has been great, we’ve had great people down here, it’s the exact guests we want families, it’s good folks,” Trepanier said. “We’re right on pace, if not a little ahead of last year which is fantastic because the last couple of years have been the two best years we’ve had.”
Law enforcement said this upcoming weekend is causing safety concerns. They said they have seen social media sites advertising events similar to last year.
And Trepanier is worried.
“Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” Trepanier said. “It’s truly just a tough situation to be in because we don’t really know what to expect, even though we’ve seen it happen before. If they’re going to come and try to take over the parking lot and take over our streets, I’ve got all the confidence in the world that our police will do the best job they can do.”
The Shoppes at Edgewater are within a Special Event Zone this weekend. That means law enforcement has more authority when patrolling certain locations.
“They’ve let us know, we’ve been in communication we talked a bunch last year, we talked after what happened last year, they’ve been planning for it, we’ve been planning for it,” Trepanier said. “They’ve done a great job. They’re taking it very, very seriously so I think those that come down here and make mistakes or try to create havoc, they’re going to pay for it.”
Trepanier said he is planning to keep his doors open through the weekend as long as it is safe to do so.