I have been the general manager for both restaurants and bars. I have worked in the District of Columbia on the several of the days when establishments are legally allowed (New Year’s Eve) and tacitly allowed (the Saturday the clocks fall back) to extend their hours of service for an extra sixty minutes. It is with the knowledge of several years running night spots on those evenings that I state unequivocally that allowing any organization with a alcoholic beverage license to extend their hours to 5am during inauguration weekend is a notion with little upside and numerous potential pitfalls.
The logic of the DC City Council would seem valid on its face: a historic weekend that will bring revelers from across the country and the world dictates historic partying, and a relaxation of the laws that cease the legal selling of booze at 2am and 3am during the week and weekend respectively. The extra revenue will benefit a restaurant industry which is struggling in tight economic times, and add tax revenue to the city coffers. For people who have never run a bar, this makes sense. However as someone who has run several I know that nothing good happens in those extra hours.
First we must examine the law of diminishing returns – the longer people have been drinking the less they drink. For every bar I have ever managed or had as a consulting client, hourly revenue increases until 1am and then drops dramatically thereafter. Additionally we must consider that the people still drinking at 4am are not likely to be the moderate tipplers – they’re going to be the drunks, the problem starters. This will require establishments to invest more in security labor.
Another consideration is that the estimated 3 to 4 million visitors will be operating under “Out of Town” rules. They have no relationship with the bars they will patronize or the city streets they will loudly wander as they return to hotels. The social contract that aids in modulating the behavior of bar patrons will functionally not exist at worst, or have watered down provisions at best.
That the Metropolitan Police Union has concerns about their ability to ensure the safety of residents during this period should not be ignored. Neither should we ignore the fact that MPD leaders were not consulted in the drafting of this “Emergency Legislation.”
This is simply a bad idea and one that I hope most restaurant and bar owners will ignore.
Edited to Add: After talking with the event planner for the location of the Bloggerational Ball, it will most certainly not be open until 5am