After being contacted by a Siesta Key condo owner, Sarasota County found an ordinance in its zoning code that prevented a pizza shop from parking at the beach a van that advertised its business.
For about a year, Solorzano Bros. Pizzeria, located in Siesta Key Village, has used the unusual marketing tool of painting a van with its logo and phone numbers and legally parking it along Beach Road in front of Siesta Key Beach.
Much to the dismay of some condo owners, it is also parked across the street from the Sunset Royale and Crescent Royale condominiums.
The van has been vandalized three times. Twice, witnesses said senior citizens were the vandals. In one incident, a man was seen slashing the van’s tires, and in another, someone put glue in a keyhole and on one of the doors.
“Don’t try to put me out of business,” said Phil Solorzano, co-owner of the pizza shop. “That’s fuel to my fire.”
Solorzano Bros. has also complained about receiving harassing phone calls. According to a sheriff’s office report, deputies visited a Crescent Royale condo owner to tell her to stop calling the shop.
That woman, Donna Grimmer, owns a condo on the first floor of Crescent Royale, and she has filed a sheriff’s report alleging that pizza-shop employees have made harassing phone calls to her as well.
Grimmer also sent e-mails to County Commissioner Nora Patterson and county staff.
“If you paid for a first-floor condo, knowing that the condo had a beautiful view of the Gulf, but finding that after putting your savings and hard work into the condo that the view you got every day and every night was of a red pizza van parked just for the purpose of advertising, how would you react?” she wrote in an e-mail.
The parking spaces are 24-hour spots, and the pizza shop complied with the law by moving the van into a new space every day. After being told by police that the pizza shop was not doing anything illegal, Grimmer appealed to Patterson, who is up for re-election this year.
“Elections are soon,” Grimmer wrote. “This challenge can make a difference for you, Nora, as well as to all elected public officials, as we look to those who are willing to show real effort where change is needed.”
Patterson said she receives many requests for action from citizens and has no problem telling those citizens when their request or complaint has no merit. In this case, she said she believes the complaint had merit.
Sandra Jones, the county’s assistant zoning administrator, said code enforcement had been looking at the section of the zoning ordinances that prohibits vehicle signs, which says that signs on vehicles parked at the place of business are not allowed. (The Solorzano Bros. van was parked off site at the beach.)
“We were reading the code on vehicle signs and got hung up on that,” she said.
Jones then discovered code that prohibited off-site advertising and advertising on public property, and she applied those prohibitions to the pizza shop’s van. The county ordered the van be removed from the beach last week, which has angered Solorzano Bros. owners.
“I get a minimum of four deliveries every day from that van being parked there,” said Solorzano. “I’d lose up to 30% of my business if I can’t park on Beach Road.”
The shop owner said some of the tactics by his opponents have backfired, including the time someone placed “Boycott Solorzanos” fliers at every door in the two condo complexes. The flier instructed people to buy their pizza from Siesta Smeag’s Pizzeria, which has since gone out of business. Solorzano said he got more calls than usual that week from those condos.
Patterson said she has nothing against the business. She said her only problem with the van is that it takes away parking spaces from tourists.
“I wish their business very well, but parking is really short,” she said. “It’s really not fair (to constantly occupy a spot).”
Grimmer said that’s her main concern, as well.
“When anyone abuses something, they should lose their privileges,” she said.
Solorzano believes the county is unfairly targeting his business.
“They’re supposed to be supporting local businesses,” he said. “(But) they’re trying to put us out of business.”
Illegal-parking complaint July 23, 2009
Scratch marks left on van Sept. 4, 2009
Complaint note left on van Sept. 9, 2009
Keyhole and door super-glued Sept. 14, 2009
Van tires slashed Dec. 6, 2009
Harassing phone calls May 10, 2010
Currently 12 Responses
- I'm sure this van isn't the only one parked on Siesta that has a phone number or a business logo on it. I've seen numerous cars at the beach that have people's business info on it. Should all these cars have to leave as well???? And to say that it is blocking a view?? Really??? The van isn't the size of the Titanic..it's a van people...get over it. And Phil is right when he says he does alot in the community. Phil and his brother Carlos have helped with many charity events and given away food for FREE!!!! I can't believe with all that is happening in the world right now(oil spill, recession,local businesses closing daily)people are complaining about a van and trying to hurt a local business. Keep on doing your thing Phil and Carlos
- Solorzano Bros Pizzeria, is not caring for others????? Thats so far from true... when people in Sarasota do any fund raiser or need any help promoting something, they come straight to us because they know we are always there for them. No business in Sarasota gives LOCAL DISCOUNTS and DISCOUNTS TO ANY ONE THAT WORKS ON SIESTA KEY, but we do!!!! So if we all lose our free parking, its because of the people that couldn't keep there mouth shut. All we did was follow the law, and play by the rules. The people to blame are Paul Parr and Donna Grimmer, they are trying to change the FREE PUBLIC PARKING not us. Last time i checked, we didn't write to any news papers they came to us, and we pay enough taxes to park our cars anywhere in Sarasota we want. And if you drove by the beach and couldn't find parking because my van was there??? That dosen't make sense, because if my van wasn't there, you still wouldn't of found parking because another car would have been in its place lol... It looks like it all BACKFIRED on Paul Parr and Donna Grimmer, not us....We have been so busy this week because of all of this media, and we have Tampa, Sarasota, and New Jersey news channels and news papers calling us... Thanks again everybody!!!! Peace and Love to Siesta Key!!!!!!!
- I would just like to say, WWW.SOLORZANOBROSPIZZERIA.COM BABY!!!!!!!! Donna Grimmer and Paul Parr, thank you so much for doing nothing, but HELP out our businesses!!!! All the buzz and media that you have sent our businesses in the past year has been greatly appreaciated and priceless. As you can see it has paid off, your favorite pizza shop that you highly recommended to everyone called Siesta Smeags, is long gone. If everything that you said about Siesta Smeags was true (Cleaner, has unbeliveable prices,faster delivery, nicer service, and much better quality) then they would still be here, and if everything u said about the Bros. was true, then we wouldn't be here..... ahhh its funny how the cookie crumbles, or should i say how the pizza gets cooked ;-) Paul your campaign has been working so well, thats why we have four locations going strong, and one more location coming soon in Gulf Gate... and Paul I still can't belive how it blocks your view when you live in the pent house? Speaking of your pent house across the street from siesta key beach ($$ Baller??) you told me that you recommend Siesta Smeags, Pizza Hut, or Domminos because they have UNBELIEVABLE PRICES and taste better hahaha You are the type of customer that we dont want, and even if we did want we still wouldn't be able to please you. We use the freshest ingredients daily, and the most expensive cheese money can buy (GRANDE CHEESE) so it would not be possible to give you 3 large pizzas for $5 each Paul, sorry... In business it is impossible to please every customer, even know we would all like to. Our clientele is a little different, and thats why we are in Sarasota and on Siesta key, trust me you wont see a Solorzano Bros. Pizzeria in the projects, but you will see a Pizza Hut. Come in and taste the difference people, see what the hype is all about!!! Donna you can't even see the beach if you wanted to because you live on the first floor, you should of spent that extra dollar on a condo with a view. You guys obviously have a lot of time on your hands to make all of this happen, and i just want to say thanks again for all the business that you sent in. This last week was so busy because of the full front page FREE advertisement that was put out thanks to you guys :-) and i do have to say i looked pretty dam good in that picture, our sales for blond females in bikinis has went up dramatically..... and someone said something about, why dont we just advertise like other people and spend money in news papers and magazine advertisements?? Its funny how people that dont have a bussiness, have advice on how to run ours. Did you notice that MOST of the people that do place adds, got out of business about a year later.... The best form of advertisement is word of mouth, and free publicity, take some advice from a couple of guys in there twenties becouse i think were doing something right, 6 years in Sarasota and four successful businesses later, and here we still are. Nora Patterson that was a great move on your part to show how you help out the local businesses in town, after dealing with a resession and oil spill.The last thing we want is to do is make any one upset, so WE choosed to move the van. There are so many differnt ways this could of been handled.. by picking the phone up and speaking your mind kindly to us instead of slashing our tires and leaving threating letters and messages to my employees. ( those are some real cool siesta key vibes i guess Mr. chillin on siesta) In New Jersey when we have a issue we confront it and try to solve it in the best matter possible. We never had someone come in and speak to us about the van all we had was Donna and Paul bitching, cursing,threatening, and vandalizing our van, clearly not the way to solve a problem. But at the end of everything we are very happy with the way everything turned out. We were there for more then a year, and generated so much FREE advertisement, $$, and loyal customers. And not to mention i have people coming in asking where the van went, so its still bringing in business and its been at our webber location for over a week. So i guess our dads $700 investment idea on getting a couple of vans, was the best thing we done so far. Peace and Love to Siesta Key.... GET 15% OFF ANY ORDER PICK UP OR DELIVERY AT ANY LOCATION, JUST MENTION THE PAUL PARR AND DONNA GRIMMER DISCOUNT :-) OMG Paul and Donna, you guys just dont stop making money for me hahaha
- Every year its something new. First it was the moped with the speaker phone and what not... and I understand that, but this.. just parking a car in a spot? For it to cause this much trouble is ridiculous. Heaven forbid some tourist has to pay a dollar or walk their out of shape body a block to get to the beach. Get over it.. Its called public parking for a reason.
- We never had a problem until you guys starting keeping your van on Beach Road all of the time. My husband and I live and work in Sarasota and I am able to have a job because of the people who own and rent their condos. I have seen your van many, many times, parked in a space that is not for advertising, but for people like myself who are taking their kids to the beach and to picnic at the tables on Beach Road. I cannot tell you how many times I could not park on Beach Road because of your van. This does not just affect the people at those condos, it affects all of us. Please do not try and justify your right to park their to advertise pizza. If we lose our free parking on Beach Road, many, many people will remember this whole mess and remember that it all started because of the Solarzano pizza truck that was always, always, always, day and night, parked on Beach Road....and that will suck for all of us. Personally, I think that it may backfire on your and really hurt your business.
- We're not the ones making noise. We just park our van on Beach Road and go about our business. That's it. The condo owners are the ones calling the police and the county. The Observer called us. We've contacted no one regarding this issue. So if the situation does escalate to the point of creating new parking regulations for Beach Road, we would not be the cause of it. Blame the people who are making a big deal out of nothing. We're just trying to make a living.
- Hey man, I like pizza a lot, but this has got to stop. Every weekend me and my posse and my fam go to Siesta Key Beach, and every weekend we see your truck parked in a spot that we could have used. Man. that's not cool. What you are doing, making all this noise... does not go with the flow here. Maybe up in New Jersey this is how people get ot done, getting into each other face and saying negative stuff, but Siesta Key has always been funky with good vibes. You know that if you keep doing this stuff, someone is going to have all of this free parking taken away and then where will we all be? Time to go with the flow, my man, and keep your van off of Beach Road...cool stuff for the benefit of everyone.
- unreal that nobody did anything until Grimmer threatened the county commission that elections were coming up and that this may have a factor in the voting. Everything was fine and legal with what Phil was doing until the resident had to say she would get everyone not to vote for Patterson if she didn't do something. Phil and his family are being punished for being a step ahead of everyone else. They were the first ones that I remember to have the sign holders on the corners of the street, now you see everyone in town doing it. And by the way they do advertise in the local papers and give generous discounts and VIP cards for regular customers. In this economy, businesses are closing left and right, and now we have residents trying to hurt local business owners. Yes tourists may help, but local businesses make their money from the people that live here all the time. I think phil needs to go deliver some free pizza to the county commission in his van, hopefully noone will vandalize it while he does it.
- Who really is breaking the law? Let think about this for a moment … shall we!! One side of the story is you have a family owned business who is trying to make an honest living, which by the way, has the BEST Pizza on the WHOLE west coast. They are very happy, honest and a fun family to be around. They are surrounded by friends and family that love them and customers that line up in front of their doors just to get a taste of great food.
On the other side of this story you have a group of seniors and residents who are vandalizing these vans and for what? What example are they setting for the children in our community? That it’s ok to harass, make trouble, and destroy a neighbor’s property. Maybe they forgot that we live in AMERICA and have freedoms. As a property owner myself I am outraged that something as stupid as this can happen in this country. It’s not illegal to park your van on a FREE public street. Maybe the Solorzano family should send a free pizza to this woman along with a copy of the constitution of the United States for her to read on her spare time.
The only crime the Solorzano family has committed is not opening up their business sooner. Because of them, many people in Siesta Key have a reason the go to the gym, which by the way gives business to the local gyms … by sharing the wealth.
There are much more important things in this world to worry about than where a pizzeria parks a van.
Solorzano family, you can park your van on my street anytime you want to!!!
- I believe this story is lacking some accuracy. This van was not moved every day. What is also not mentioned is this owner came to my door and harassed me personally about notifying my rental guests to not order pizza from this location because of the belligerence of the owner over using our street for his parking lot and advertising. The manager of our building at Sunset Royale was obviously too intimidated to deal with him directly and sent him up to my door to confront me personally. I did explain to this person that I not only recommend our guests use another location for their pizza, but that my wife and I no longer patronize his parents restaurant on Siesta Drive, which their son seemed puzzled over. There have been many occasions this year where beach goers could not park during busy times at the beach. The parking lot was full and street parking is extremely limited. If the four pizzas he sells per day from his obnoxious and inconsiderate street parking is 30% of his business perhaps the campaign from these condo building owners is working. Rental guest who are from all over the world pay upward of $1,000 per week to rent condos in these buildings because of beach convenience and view. When I mentioned this to the young man when he came to my door, he said he didn't care. Siesta Key is a great place with no commercial signs or enterprises in the beach area, what makes the Solarzano brothers so privileged and non carrying on how they affect others?
- I agree with the many renters, tourists, condo owners and taxpayers of Sarasota, who feel that if Solarzano wants to advertise their pizza business, they should do it by paying for their advertising, not by taking up a free parking space that is meant for those who come here to use Siesta Key Public Beach. It is not good judgement for a business to abuse the free public parking on Beach Road for their own self-serving rolling billboard advertising. Siesta Key Public Beach is on the map because it is a beautiful place to visit. If all of the parking on Beach Road, parking that is there for those who have come to use the Beach, is taken up by businesses that plant their vans twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, our beach would look ugly. Who is to stop every business in town from selfishly following in the same manner on Beach Road to serve only one thing, and that is to promote their own self-interests by taking advantage of our tax dollars that keep Beach Road parking free for the TOURIST. Will it take new measures, such as parking meters or specified parking hours, to keep Beach Road free of rolling billboard advertising? This can happen, and then everyone who has enjoyed free parking on Beach Road will have to feel the negative impact that comes as a result from businessness who promote themselves this way. Solarzano has many options to advertise their pizza, and they should do so in a way that does not upset tourists, renters and condominium owners and Sarasota County taxpayers. Quit upsetting so many people and do positive advertising, such as ads in the papers, print coupons and have them placed up and down the key in all of the complexes, and show generosity of spirit. Good will can go along way.
- I dont think the pizzeria is committing a crime here. In this economy people have to do what they can to keep businesses up and running. While she is complaining about her view, the pizzeria is out hustling to keep their business on the map. It appears to me that in her life of leisure she would complain about anything that disrupts that. Maybe she will complain about the fog on the water. Maybe the sunset isn't as beautiful as it once was. Or maybe the tourists aren't as attractive as they once were. Whatever the case, she didn't pay for the parking spot that the van is occupying . When she bought her condo was there a clause that said "no one shall disturb your view"? I doubt it. So while she is putting all this complaining and research into laws and bi laws of how to stop someone from making a living, why don't she do something useful with her time? Maybe become a contributing member of the community, instead of a trouble maker without a life.
24 What are you doing on Christmas Eve?
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Sound of hope
The holiday season hasn’t officially started until our favorite bell ringers return to their posts.
Shoppers and residents were treated to some holiday harmonies by the Senior Friendship Centers’ group, the Second Wind Harmonica Players, in Downtown Sarasota.
Stepping up to the plate
The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County teamed up to bring the anti-bullying event Rachel’s Challenge to Sarasota Dec. 3.