McGinn.jpg
Mike Lewis
You're being watched closely on this one, Mr. Mayor
When Mayor Mike McGinn's announced Tuesday night that the city wants to, among other

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Details Fuzzy After Late-Night Boozing (Proposal)

McGinn.jpg
Mike Lewis
You're being watched closely on this one, Mr. Mayor
When Mayor Mike McGinn's announced Tuesday night that the city wants to, among other things, allow boozing past the current 2 a.m. limit, one fact remained abundantly clear:

None of the facts are abundantly clear.

Virtually every party involved, from residents to cops to city officials and the Washington State Liquor Board, has different expectations from the eight-part Nightlife Initiative,which seeks to revamp local regulations on noise control, bouncer training, late-night mass transit and the one notion that's getting the bulk of the attention: staggered last-call times for bars, clubs and restaurants. (Yes, "staggered" is what they call it. No, they weren't trying to make a joke.)

In effect, the Mayor's office says, this would allow some bars to remain open and serve beyond the existing 2 a.m. cutoff, thus stopping the city-wide bum rush of drunks onto the sidewalks (and streets) at closing time. The 2 a.m. push-out, McGinn says, "can overwhelm the resources of a city."

The Mayor's office has opened the proposal, billed as a boost for the nighttime economy, for public comment. It's already received some. The state liquor board isn't necessarily convinced that staggered drinking hours make a city safer. And McGinn knows that neighborhood groups are not going to be an easy sell on later-night drinking at corner watering holes.

And, oddly, not all bar owners are fully on board either. Dan Olsby, general manager of Peso's Kitchen and Lounge in Lower Queen Anne, says he'd likely be interested in later hours but he's waiting to see the criteria for approval.

"How is this process gong to work?" Olsby wonders. "Is it just clubs? Do they have to offer food later? Is it just going to be beer? I'm interested in the details."

Just as important, he's interested in not getting left out. What if a bar down the street gets approval and Pesos does not? "What would that mean for our bottom line?" Olsby asks. "I mean, people are not necessarily going to get up and go to another bar at that hour. Likely they'll pick the later-night place earlier in the evening and then just stay."

The city, McGinn said, has looked at other urban areas considering or with flexible closing hours. In New York City, for instance, bars can stay open until 4 a.m., and in New Orleans and other municipalities, the revelry can persist 24/7.

Swani, manager at Jimmy's Corner in Times Square, says that during the week her bar does little business between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. "But on weekends, it can be an extra 10 to 15 percent to the day's receipts," she adds.

Details of Seattle's proposal, city officials say, will become clearer following the comment period.

Mike Lewis is the co-owner of the Streamline Tavern on Lower Queen Anne.

 
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