Downtown Evening Valet Service Starts Thursday

valet parking
Tadson Bussey

When evening “universal valet” service launches in downtown Lakeland Thursday, at least three businesses will offer full validation, two will offer discounts off the $6-per-car price and more are expected to follow, according to the Downtown Development Authority’s Julie Townsend.

Posto 9 Brazilian Gastropub and Lakeland Loft Cigars and Spirits, both scheduled to open this month, and Fresco’s will offer full parking validation to customers, Townsend said. Black & Brew Coffee & Bistro will offer $3 validation to customers who spend at least $10, and Chop Shop will offer a $2 discount on parking, she said.

Universal valet, open to anybody coming downtown, will be offered Thursday through Saturday evenings through two stands: one in front of Nathan’s Men’s Store on Main Street and one on Lemon Street by Fresco’s.

In addition, Posto 9 will offer complimentary valet service Sunday through  Wednesday nights, but only for its customers. Tampa-based 717 Parking Services is the provider for both the weekend universal service and the Posto 9 Sunday-weekday valet.

Here’s a news release about the valet program that the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority issued on Friday:

The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) and the City of Lakeland have teamed up to bring valet parking to Downtown Lakeland with services beginning Thursday, December 8, 2016. The program, called Universal Valet, will operate Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at a cost of $6.00 per car. Several restaurants/bars will offer some form of validation for their customers which would reduce or eliminate the cost of the valet service to that customer. Anyone visiting Downtown may use the service regardless of their destination.

The valet stand locations are the corner of E. Main Street and S. Kentucky Avenue in front of Nathan’s Mens Store and the corner of S. Kentucky Avenue and E. Lemon Street across from Fresco’s. Valeted cars will be parked in the city-owned parking lots located at Massachusetts Avenue at E. Orange and S. Florida Avenue at the railroad tracks. Valet services are contracted with 717 Parking Services by the LDDA.

“I am confident that this service will be a significant value added experience to Downtown commerce. More importantly, this service will provide our citizens and visitors with more parking choices,” says Angelo Rao, City of Lakeland’s Manager of Traffic Operations and Parking Services.

Though finding convenient parking in the evening is not much of a challenge today, Downtown is expecting as many as four new establishments around Munn Park in the next year.  POSTO 9 Brazilian Gastropub and Lakeland Loft Cigars and Spirits have grand openings in this month. Two additional full service restaurants are expected to open in the next four to twelve months, both on Tennessee Avenue – Café Roti and MOJO’s Barbeque. These four establishments have close to 1,000 seats collectively and are all located within the same two block urban area where no additional parking is provided. These new establishments’ customers will be competing for the same convenient spaces, both with each other and with the existing restaurants and bars. Customers will find it more challenging to find on street spots near their destination as Downtown continues to grow.

“What makes Downtown so attractive is the dense population of dining, entertainment and shopping options in its urban setting,” explains Julie Townsend, Executive Director of the LDDA.  “We want even more density which will continue to push the majority of parking to the perimeter. Not everyone is willing to walk more than a block, so we have to be sure to offer a variety of parking options that provide customers confidence in an opportunity to park while not destroying the urban appeal. Valet provides a convenient parking option for those willing to pay for it. It will not replace self-parking; it will be an alternative for those who choose it.”

The LDDA sponsored Universal Valet is not free. The cost is $6.00 per car. But some businesses are willing to help defray that cost for customers. Fresco’s, POSTO 9 Brazilian Gastropub and Lakeland Loft Cigar and Spirits will offer a full validation of their customer’s valet cost. Black & Brew Coffee House will offer 50% off with a purchase of $10.00 or more, which reduces the cost of valet to $3.00 for its customers. Chop Shop will offer a $2 discount off the $6.00 valet cost. Other restaurants are expected to join the program as it gets underway.

Downtown’s newest restaurant, POSTO 9 Brazilian Gastropub, will provide valet parking for its customers on the evenings the Universal Valet system is not available – Sunday through Wednesday. Though the valet stand will be in the same location on Main Street as the LDDA sponsored Universal program, on these days valet will only be available for POSTO 9 customers.