Wicked Dolphin Rum petitions city for roadside sign

Author: Rachael Rafanelli
Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- A Cape Coral distillery petitioned the city for a roadside sign. Wicked Dolphin distillery said it should be allowed to put a directional sign near Pine Island Road. Monday night, the City Council agreed.

This all started because the city law for tourist oriented signs originally said Wicked Dolphin does not qualify as a tourist destination

“We’re talking buses! Buses come down,” explained JoAnn Elardo. More than 15,000 people are expected to visit Wicked Dolphin this year. And now, JoAnn Elardo will get a tourist oriented sign by Pine Island Road and SW 3rd Place, to tell people where to turn.

“It’s not a large sign, it’s not going to block anyone’s view,” she explained.

The City Council voted unanimously to give her that sign, but she had a to fight for it.

Originally a city memo told her a business is considered a  tourist attraction only if it gets the majority of its income from out of town guests. Because of that, it said, Wicked Dolphin did not qualify.

The distillery also went to the Florida Department of Transportation asking for a sign. and also got denied. The state law says only a winery is allowed to have a tourist oriented sign, not a distillery.

“The state is pretty archaic in a lot of their rules, when it pertains to distilleries,” said Elardo. “In the city we’re  probably one of the larger tourist destinations down here. I think they kind of realize that.”

Wicked Dolphin will get its sign, but will have to make sure it’s not too big, so it won’t distract drivers.
Elardo also hopes one day to place a directional sign on I-75, and says she is pushing the state to change its laws when it comes to directional signs, saying they shouldn’t just be allowed for wineries, but distilleries as well.

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