Alachua bar owners say new hours will help some
ALACHUA – Proprietors of bars and liquor stores in the city of Alachua have differing views on how the proposed repeal of some so-called “blue laws” will affect their businesses.
If passed, City Ordinance 12-19, will among other provisions, allow the sale of packaged alcohol on Sundays and allow the on-premise sale of alcohol starting at 7 a.m. Monday-Sunday.
Alan Fishman, owner of Spindrifter Lounge in Alachua, said the new ordinance will have little positive effect on his business, saying that being allowed to open early Sunday morning will not bring him increased sales.
Fishman said the greatest benefit would come from being allowed to stay open late on Sunday night, which would mean until 2 a.m. Monday morning, a provision that a recent City of Gainesville ordinance allows for, but the one proposed by the City of Alachua does not.
An Alachua County ordinance saw recent changes that also extend the hours for packaged alcohol sales, but like the ordinance being considered by Alachua city commissioners, does not allow the on-premise sale of liquor after 11 p.m. on Sundays.
“I don’t know how much more business I could bring in with three extra hours on Sunday, but every little bit helps,” Fishman said.
Connie McMains, manager of Alachua Sports Pub, agrees that opening earlier on Sunday will do little to increase revenue, but does not feel that staying open later on Sunday will bring a substantial gain in customers.
“Around here on Sunday morning, people are either asleep or in church,” McMains said. “But the only people who would go to a bar at 2 a.m. on Sunday night are bartenders getting off work from other places.”
Adam Boukari, assistant to the Alachua city manager, said the law does not allow on-premise consumption after 11 p.m. because of an issue with law enforcement scheduling.
“Reports from the Gainesville Police Department are that the additional 2 a.m. closing on Sunday required the rescheduling and assignment of additional police officers,” Boukari said. “The City of Alachua Police Department has limited staff and the additional 2 a.m. closing on Sunday may well create staffing challenges that may be difficult to meet. The impacts of Gainesville's additional 2 a.m. closing will be monitored and studied to determine future recommended revisions to the City of Alachua's ordinance.”
The ordinance, which will go before the Alachua City Commission for a second and final reading on June 25, would allow liquor stores to be open Sundays from 7 a.m.-11p.m., a change from the current ordinance which keeps liquor stores closed Sundays.
Blu Patel, owner of Spirit Shop of Alachua, said being open on Sunday will not do much to increase business, and said he might not be open even if the ordinance is passed.
“Being open seven days a week might be more of a hassle than a benefit for me,” Patel said. “It would be a benefit for customers. Some people want to relax on Sunday and have a drink, but it’s harder for me to be open seven days. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be open Sundays.”
Commissioners gave the ordinance a preliminary nod during a public hearing on May 21. A second and potentially final hearing is scheduled during a 6:30 p.m. commission meeting on June 25 at Alachua City Hall.Add a comment