Bartenders come together to keep midnight bar ordinance away

One group rallies to keep downtown Charleston awake past midnight

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The public gets a chance to weigh-in on the midnight bar ordinance Thursday that's proposed for downtown Charleston's entertainment district.

With libations and cocktails as their bread and butter, it comes as no surprise that some of the biggest opponents to new downtown bar restrictions are bartenders.

"We're number 1 on almost every body's list and it's not because we go to bed at 11:30 at night," said owner of Proof Cocktail Bar and leader in Charleston Bartender's Guild."

Nelson said when the measure was proposed in May, he he wasn't happy.

"I believe that it will stifle the amount of tourists and locals that will go out in this area," said Nelson. "I also believe that it will put more people in cars on the road that have already been drinking at 12 o'clock to head to other areas of town."

The ordinance would affect future businesses spanning King street, from Broad to Poplar streets, and sections of Meeting and East Bay Streets.

It states midnight as the cut-off for alcohol sales for all new bars and establishments in that entertainment district.

The proposal passed at its first reading, introducing the temporary ban.

There's still a lot of moves that must be made before it's permanent.

"At this point, I believe it's all the action that we can do is contact our council members, mayor's office and just show up to let them know that we're serious and not forgetting about this," said Nelson.

After the public forum, revisions will be presented to the planning commission on August 20th.

Then, City Council will give it a second, and potentially third reading, in September.

The goal for the measure is to bring a variety of businesses downtown.

That's something Nelson believes can be obtained in other ways.

"I would ask them to come out here and take a look around," said Nelson. "I do believe that they can pass some zoning, but I do believe that if this place is open at this time and this place shuts down at that time, makes it unfair and I don't even believe legal, in that aspect."

Until it's permanent, Nelson says, the guild isn't giving up hope.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Charleston Museum.

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