Tallahassee may adjust nightlife hours

Bullwinkle's is a popular bar on the West Tennessee Street strip.
Photo by tallahassee.com

Since 2016, Tallahassee city commissions have been looking to adjust the mandatory closing times for bars.

The proposed ordinance seeks to adjust the operating hours of bars and nightclubs. As it stands now, establishments are mandated to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. and close their doors by 2:30. The proposed bill would shift the closing time by 30 minutes, giving bars the room to close at 3.

This bill was met with mixed reviews as some business owners thought it would even the playing field and allow them to start competing with local eateries that stay open later.

Those against the bill argue that there would be no need for a later closing time that would only lead to more problems.

Chris Godwin is the owner of The Warrior, a local bar and music venue. The Warrior often hosts touring music acts and theme nights, which can last late into the evening. He didn’t have much to say on the subject, but he did make it clear he was against the law passing.

“I hate staying open past 3 a.m. simply because of the riffraff it brings.”

 Godwin also mentioned the added strain that it would place on those having to work during those hours to accommodate the patrons looking to make the most of their night out.

Another figure involved in the local nightlife scene, Gabe Grass, shared his thoughts on the potential change to closing times. Grass, the Founder and head brewer of GrassLands brewery on Gaines Street, admits that they are on the outside looking in on the issue. The location has a closing time of midnight and has created somewhat of a loophole for his business.

Grass still feels that there is some good that can come from the time change. “I believe the bill is all about promoting fairness. It levels the playing field for everyone in the community to contribute to the economy,” Grass said.

 As for the relatively early closing time for GrassLands, Grass pointed to a number of factors. “For us, we hold our product in some of these bars around town and they are open later and we just don’t want to compete with them. That and I personally believe nothing good happens past midnight so even though it would be something that we could most likely pull off staying open later, that isn’t something I’m interested in.”

Though Grass opted out of taking advantage of the time change, he acknowledged its potential impact. “It’s a very progressive move for the city. It’s clear that Tallahassee is looking to break into an 18-hour economy like you see in some bigger cities so I think it’s a good first step in the right direction.”