City to try extended drinking hours

On a unanimous 5-0 vote, Historic City News looked on last night as St. Augustine city commissioners followed actions taken by commissioners in adjoining jurisdictions by temporarily extending alcohol sales from 1:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.

In the past two months, St. Johns County, and later the City of St. Augustine Beach, have approved similar ordinances which take precedence over state laws that otherwise call for a midnight “last call”.

“I don’t think we would be doing it if the county had not first extended hours”, Chief Operations Officer John Regan said. “It is to be consistent with the Beach and the county so people don’t leave St. Augustine bars early.”

Concerns from restaurant and bar owners in support of the ordinance have been that people are leaving early for other jurisdictions where late drinking is allowed. However, Regan pointed out, “It’s not that you lose business between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. — it’s that you lose customers from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.”

The new ordinance applies to hard liquor, beer and wine sales. The extended hours will begin at 7:00 a.m., on February 5th and end at 2:01 a.m., on July 12th. City officials plan to review the ordinance at that time for possible renewal.

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