What difference does two hours make? Does serving beer and wine negatively impact a neighborhood?
The City Council held a of downtown to remain open until 9 p.m. (as opposed to the current limit of 7 p.m.), and to allow the small restaurants to serve beer and wine if they choose. At this time there are only two restaurants in the Millville district, the and .
Several months ago we were having lunch at the Red Rooster Café and asked our server, who turned out to be the co-owner Jamie Radcliffe, why they did not offer a dinner service. When she explained that they were not allowed to stay open past 7 and were prohibited from serving any alcohol, my first reaction was “That’s ridiculous!”
But in the interest of fairness, I wanted to find out why. I find that there is usually a good reason behind these types of restrictions. What immediately came to my mind was that they were in place to preserve the character and historic “feel” of that section of waterfront. And sure enough, my research has shown this to be the reason.
I agree that this is an excellent and important long term plan for the waterfront. I love this part of the town and want to see it preserved. Anything that could jeopardize the area with a significant increase in late night traffic, noise pollution or unattractive signage and buildings needs to be carefully considered.
I have a hard time believing that extending the hours of operation from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. would cause any more than a minimal increase in traffic and noise. And beer and wine served in a responsible restaurant setting would have no impact. There is already a Mexican restaurant directly across the street from the area in question. They have a full bar and are free to stay open past 9 p.m. It seems a little unfair to say that one side of the street should be held to drastically different standards.
These restaurants are already here and the proposed moderate changes could have a major impact on their success. It’s virtually impossible to offer dinner when you must close by 7 p.m., especially in the summer months. Beer and wine is practically required for a successful dinner service in a sit down type restaurant. I have worked as a bookkeeper in several small family owned restaurants and know first hand how tight the profit margins are. The sale of beer and wine can make a huge difference.
I have taken an extremely unscientific poll that involved asking anyone who would listen how they felt about this issue. Almost everyone was already familiar with it and, without exception, in support of the changes. Opinions expressed pointed out the increased tax revenue for the city, their support for local small businesses in this challenging economic climate and the desire for a casual, family friendly waterfront dinner option.
I agree completely. The City Council has decided to delay voting on this, but my hope is that after careful consideration, they will see that our small businesses need our support.