Proposal to close downtown bars at midnight - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Proposal to close downtown bars at midnight

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Charleston City Council will consider a new proposal that would close doors to nightlife in parts of downtown Charleston two hours early.

"So they're pretty much trying to tell people they can't stay out late and give adults curfews," one out-of-town visitor said.

A memorandum from Mayor Joe Riley, Police Chief Greg Mullen and City Planner Tim Keane said they want to make what they're calling the "entertainment district" close at midnight. Currently bars in Charleston close at 2:00 a.m.

"That's ridiculous. Two o'clock is already too early, people just want to have a good time, stay out late," out-of-town visitor Shawn Woods said.

That means no more last calls in the early morning hours, and that was fine with one guest who said, "I think that would be a good idea... people can sleep and people are safer."

"The good news is Charleston is a safe city and that the peninsula has a wonderful collection of restaurants and bars - the combination of that and the scale of the city have increasingly made it an attractive place to eat and drink," the memo stated. "Too much of anything can be harmful and we think it is important to do everything we can to make sure we have moderated this level of activity to a degree that is reasonable for all concerned - those who live and work in the peninsula as well as those who visit."

The proposal includes all restaurants, bars and gas stations. However, this would not include current businesses. Bars, restaurants that are open until 2 a.m. now will be grandfathered into the new proposal. Therefore, midnight closings would only impact future businesses on the peninsula.

"That's a horrible idea and I think all the businesses would lose a lot of money from it," Woods said.

While many in the food and beverage industry said that's the problem with the proposal, there were no business owners available to speak on camera this Saturday afternoon.

So for now, the late-night hot spots, including parts of Market Street, Meeting Street and most of King can continue business as usual. If this proposal passes through city council on to a public hearing, a different outcome could impact those areas.

City Council will discuss the proposal Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.
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