If the opening of seasonal places is an indicator of summer than surely their disappearance is a symbol of fall. After just over two months in operation, the closed its outdoor ice cream tent on Monday. Known as the Dog Scoop, the ice cream stand was popular with locals and visitors but it’s not clear if the Dog Scoop will reopen next year.
“I don’t think I’ll get a permit again,” Dog Watch Cafe Co-Owner Dave Eck said.
Days before the scheduled Labor Day closing of the Dog Scoop, the Dog Watch Cafe was issued a cease and desist order over the use of tent.
The cease and desist order dated August, 21, 2012 states: “tent is being used for retail sales of coffee, lemonade and other non ice cream related items including clothing, hats and belts. Additionally, as per a previous Notice of Violation, approximately 8-10 patrons of the Dog Watch Café were observed drinking alcoholic beverages in the tent on Friday June 22, 2012.
Restaurant staff was heard on two occasions directing patrons to take their drinks to the tent while they wait for a table. This is in violation of the Zoning Compliance Permit issued for the use of the tent, which specifically states ‘No restaurant food or beverage to be served. Ice cream only.’
Also no permit was obtained for the Ice Cream sign hanging on the tent in violation of Section 3.7.7 of the Borough of Stonington Zoning Regulations.
You are hereby directed to Cease and Desist use of the tent and the tent should be removed within 15 days. Failure to take the necessary action as described in this order may result in civil action against you.
Should you disagree with this Notice, you may appeal it to the Borough of Stonington Zoning Board of Appeals as per section 13.1.1 of the Borough Zoning Regulations. Should you file this application within 15 days, no further enforcement action will be taken until the Board hears your appeal.”
Eck said he had heard he would be issued a cease and desist order, but that he never received it and if he did, he was planning to appeal it.
Of course since the tent was always going to be closed and taken down after Labor Day the cease and desist order was a moot point by the time it was issued. However, if Eck wants to put up the tent again next year he will have to re-apply for the permit.
Throughout the summer Eck said he enjoyed watching people come down and get ice cream from the tent and it is something he would want to see continue.
“It’s 7 p.m. and grandparents come with their grandkids to get ice cream, and they’re sitting under the tent and the grandson is interacting with the grandfather,” Eck said.
He admits that when the tent first went up on June 22 there were people with alcoholic beverages under the tent, but he said it was because it started raining and people outside ran under the tent. Maybe the staff telling people they could take their dinks to the tent while they waited could be seen as just first day kinks.
However, Zoning Officer David Atkinson said over the course of the summer he received several complaints from people about the tent mainly about the selling of t-shirts. The initial permit for the tent O.K.’s a 20 x 25 foot tent that is erected Memorial Day to Labor Day. It states, “no restaurant food or beverage to be served. Ice Cream only.”
Eck said they began selling water after a few people asked and after a mother asked for lemonade for her kids one of the staff members went and bought Capri sun lemonades, which they also sold. They’ve also been selling Dog Watch and clothing items under the tent.
“They asked for something very specific and they got something very specific,” Atkinson said. “They are operating outside of those parameters.”
Atkinson said it was a very simple fix and if the Dog Watch seeks a permit next year they will have to define what the Dog Watch wants to do.
It isn’t clear if Eck will reapply for the permit since he believes he won’t receive it.