Businesses see little change in revenue months after ‘Last Call’ order

Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster may soon lift his “Last Call” executive order which bans alcohol sales after 11 p.m.

McMaster told reporters on Monday that he hopes to get rid of the order soon, but he is still looking at vaccination data.

The order was set in July 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some bars and restaurants in downtown Charleston that rely on late night crowds initially said they were nervous about what the ban would mean for business.

“It was definitely a fear, that’s a massive part of our revenue every single week,” Director of Operations for Charleston Hospitality Group Jeff Diehl said.” We were worried when the order came out because that may as well be a shut down for us.”

Seven months later, some businesses have not felt any impacts from the lack of late-night alcohol sales.

Diehl said sales are up from last year and the year before, and people just come out to bars and restaurants earlier.

Jesus “Ish” Fernandez is the general manager of Tabbuli on King Street. He said at first the “Last Call” order was a big hit for the business, which made a lot of sales between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Since then, the restaurant switched their focus to delivery options, and more food sales that go on past 11 p.m.

“Ultimately we have had more people coming out earlier and enjoying themselves. People created that habit of coming out earlier and saying, ’Let’s do this, let’s do that,’ and going home earlier,” Fernandez said.

While the order hasn’t affected these businesses at night, some say places that serve breakfast do see a difference.

Diehl said the ban also does not allow places to serve alcohol before 10 a.m., so some restaurants have not been able to serve mimosas or other drinks in the morning.

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