Reasons bar-owners are frustrated over the drinking hours debate in Orlando
It turns out, the city’s proposition to extend last call by one hour may not be good for some bars
Published: May 28, 2013
But Walker, who says he couldn’t even afford to manage the requirements, contends that the big picture of the ordinance is shortsighted.
“Three o’clock is going to make things better down there?” he says. “The problem they have down there is that they overserve people and they throw them out the front door. Making it 3 a.m., that’s going to fix it? It’s not the kids.”
Businesses fear retribution
Written into the proposed ordinance are nine potential violations – after-hours alcohol, underage attendance and noise among them – that businesses could face if the proposal passes. If they rack up six violations in one permit year, they could lose their permits to operate for a full year. That six-strikes-and-you’re-out proposal has businesses on edge about enforcement.
“The goal with that is to try to show enough severity with the infractions that, if you’ve done them six times in a year, you’re probably a risk anyway,” Fagan says.
Logan Berkowitz, a managing partner with Florida Entertainment Specialists, which runs downtown bar the Attic, is skeptical. Even with ID scanners – which could cost up to $1,500 – there’s still the potential that somebody could get in the front door with a real drivers license that has a picture that just happens to look like him or her.
“Now I need to make sure that my door guy doesn’t doze off or something,” he says. “I fear how they’re going to do the enforcement. I do believe they have good intentions, but they’re not bar operators or bar owners. Some of their deputies are not very understanding. ... I just fear that you’re giving too much power to this law-enforcement group. I hope their message isn’t to shut down bars. Some of the violations are so minimal.”
But the potential for violations would likely increase with the added hour of drinking, says Independent Bar’s Gardner. It’s logical that the likelihood of drug abuse would increase, and the onus would be on the bar owner to control it.
“The biggest thing is that I think it denies due process,” Gardner says. “You’ve got the police. They’re enforcing the law, and they’re also being the judge and jury.”
Frank Hamby, who owns the Beacham Theater, is likewise concerned about the city pushing public safety onto bars’ shoulders. “I am concerned about how the new ordinance would be enforced and by what means any enforcement action could be appealed,” he writes in an email. “To this point there are only rumors and talking points regarding the ordinance.”
Rules of the city’s proposed new after-hours permit
Establishment must be 21-and-over after 10 p.m. (10:30 p.m. if dinner was served that evening)
Drinking hours would be extended Thursday through Saturday
Last call: 3 a.m.
Drinks finished: 3:15 a.m.
Lights out: 3:30 a.m. (currently, lights out is
at 3 a.m.)
Drinking hours would also be extended on New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
ID scanners would be required for bars that hold 100 people or more
Off-duty officer would be required for bars open past midnight that have occupancy of more than 300 people
All-ages permits only issued for bars that offer music 50 percent of the time they are open
All-ages shows must clear out after show is over
All-ages shows must offer pre-sale for tickets
Serving of alcohol after hours
Failure to allow inspection of establishment
Allowing anyone under 21 to enter when not lawfully authorized
Failure to use electronic ID scanners
Failure to hire off-duty OPD officers as required
Failure to post After Hours Permit near entrance
Fairly to comply with city’s noise ordinance
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