Sober up downtown

The Minneapolis City Council should pass Schiff’s Late-Night amendment.

There is absolute mayhem at bar close currently in downtown Minneapolis. There couldn’t be a worse idea than having all the businesses close at the same time,” says Minneapolis Councilmember Gary Schiff. Indeed, anyone who has been on Hennepin Avenue after 2 a.m. can tell you the current restriction — which disallows downtown restaurants to serve food beyond 2 a.m. — poses a public safety risk by encouraging a large number of people to take to the streets simultaneously. Bar patrons have nowhere they can go to sober up — save, perhaps, a car — because restaurants cannot stay open after bar close. We agree with Schiff. The current policy is wholly unsound.

The Minneapolis City Council has a chance to place restaurants in downtown Minneapolis on equal footing with restaurants in other Minneapolis communities and, in the process, make downtown nightlife safer. Later this summer, the City Council will consider Schiff’s Late Night Food ordinance amendment, which would allow downtown restaurants to stay open and serve food, even after they stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.

Many University of Minnesota students can appreciate this proposal for what it is: a chance to give consumers more choices, not to mention a safer and a more enjoyable late night experience. Restaurants near campus already can — and do — stay open late, giving restaurant owners more business and patrons the good time they are looking for.

A plan similar to the proposed amendment has already worked once in Minneapolis. During the Republican National Convention in 2008, restaurants could apply for special permits to stay open. Those that did saw their profits soar.

Downtown restaurants should be able to offer their menu late at night just as they were allowed to during the RNC and as restaurants in other parts of Minneapolis currently can. Customers should be given the option to continue their merriment after bar close at an eatery of their choice. Everyone in Minneapolis should enjoy safer streets because bar patrons are given the chance to sober up before driving home.