After months of studying and political wrangling, the Orlando city council is ready to vote on a controversial plan that will extend drinking hours in Downtown Orlando and end the party earlier for those younger than 21.
According to the Orlando Sentinel on Aug. 26, city leaders will consider a proposal that, if passed, will extend last call for bars and clubs in Downtown Orlando from 2 a.m to 3 a.m. The proposal would also boot anyone who is not old enough to drink out of downtown at 10 p.m.
The proposal would only apply to Downtown Orlando. Bars and clubs elsewhere in Orlando would still have to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.
Bar and club owners outside of downtown has opposed the new regulations, claiming that the city is creating a double standard, and feels that if downtown has extended serving hours, then the rest of the city should have extended serving hours as well. City commissioner Patty Sheehan, who has been a strong critic of the proposal, told the Sentinel:
None of it makes sense. If you want to draw a different clientele, you need to concentrate on the restaurant crowd and the after-5 crowd, not worrying about what happened at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.
But supporters of the new hours and age limit believes that the new regulations will help draw in a more refined crowd to downtown. They also say that it will convince convention and leisure travelers to come and enjoy an evening downtown instead of sticking close to the bars and clubs on International Drive.
Doug Taylor, the co-owner of six downtown bars and clubs and who also helped write the proposal, told the Sentinel:
If it passes, I believe we are sending a strong signal that our downtown is becoming more sophisticated because we are going 21-plus, and more sophisticated because we are going to 3a.m.
City council will hold the first of two public hearings at 2 p.m. at City Hall in Downtown Orlando on Aug 26. Two weeks later, the council will hold a second public hearing and have the final vote.
If passed, Orlando would join Tampa, St Petersburg and Pinellas County in having a 3 a.m last call. Broward County in South Florida has a 4 a.m last call, and Miami bars and clubs can serve for 24 hours in the Miami Entertainment District in Downtown Miami.