Bars in Tallahassee that serve alcohol could be closing earlier

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 16:46:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Could bars and other places in Tallahassee that serve alcohol close earlier?

The city commission is looking at updating an ordinance to do just that. 

Here's how the city has gotten to this point:

  • In January 2016, the commission extended the closing time from 2:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
  • In July of that year, FSU, FAMU and TCC wrote a joint letter to reconsider the ordinance and close by 2:30 a.m.
  • That month, the commission directed a change to the ordinance, which lead us to Wednesday. 

It's less about the closing time and more about what's known as "last call," which is the latest time to serve alcohol.

The city has tossed around the issue before, but this time, there's a new addition that's not sitting well with some businesses. 

The ordinance would require most businesses with licenses to serve alcohol to close by 3:00 a.m. instead of 4:00 a.m.

It also calls for a ban on serving and drinking alcohol after 2:00 a.m.

So, technically, you could order alcohol at 1:59 a.m., but you'd need to consume it before 2:00 a.m..

That's something some bar owners said doesn't make sense. 

"I think you're going to open up a lot more situations and unpracticality in asking bars that's going to fail. You're giving us an ability to say that we can control everybody's behavior at the end of the night, they're going to comply with it," said Dan Gilbertson, Owner of Potbelly's. "You're kind of asking a lot of our staff to be able to do that. So, you effectively might as well change the time earlier, if that's what this is about." 

The commission voted to prepare two versions of the ordinance, one as it is now and the other without the new "consumption" clause. 

City staff will also provide more analysis to the commission before the one and only public hearing about this issue. That's set for Oct. 17.