The Orlando City Council was set to vote Monday on a proposed ordinance to extend alcohol service at downtown bars by one hour on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The City Council decided to postpone that vote but let’s take a look at its implications.
Many cities allow alcohol service well into the night. When I first moved to Orlando many years ago, I remember a bartender calling last call at 1:30am and thinking to myself, “Wait … What? I just got here twenty minutes ago!” Ah, to be young again.
It’s not the extended drinking hours that bother me. Instead, it’s the non universal application of the proposed ordinance that bothers me. You see, the proposed ordinance would only apply to bars downtown. First of all, what is downtown? Coming from Chicago where neighborhoods are very defined areas, I might be a bit anal on this point. But, I’ve heard people who live more than a mile outside the city center claim to live downtown. No. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. But if “downtown” is an undefined area, then how are we to know which bars this proposed ordinance would apply to?
Second, and more importantly, I do not like the bar discrimination this proposed ordinance puts forth. Only downtown bars get to stay open the extra hour. What about my neighborhood pub? Why can’t I stay out until 3? Why is it only the bars downtown that get to remain open an extra hour? Doug Taylor, co-owner of six downtown bars has an idea:
If it passes, I believe we are sending a strong signal that our downtown is becoming more sophisticated because we are going 21-plus, and more sophisticated because we are going to 3 a.m.
Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel responded to this better than anyone:
Buffy, dear …
How about, instead of summering in Monte Carlo this year, we visit Orlando?
Because they’re going to let us guzzle our gimlets down at The Loaded Hog until 3 a.m. – allowing 60 whole extra minutes to get schnockered.
Oh, how sophisticated, dear.
I don’t think sophistication has anything to do with it. I think new alcohol permit application fees, requiring bars to hire an off duty Orlando police officer and additional tax revenue are all more likely candidates than wanting to be more sophisticated.