Some California cities could stay open until 4 a.m.
WESTCHESTER, Calif. — Wiping down tables and waving to his staff, Melody Bar and Grill owner Christian Warren prepares for another day of customers.
“My mother often reminded me of this story when I was just a little kid, and I told her that one day I was going to own my restaurant,” Warren said.
That’s exactly what Warren did, first launching Ma’kai in Santa Monica with a business partner in 2004 and, a few years later, buying Melody Bar and Grill, which was established in 1952. He says it has been attracting both locals and travelers since it broke down. the street of LAX.
“They come to California, and it’s an amazing state. We have all the sun and all the beaches and then we have this nightlife and then it ends way too soon for the rest of the world,” he said.
But California’s last booze call at 2 a.m. could change. California State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is again trying to give bar, restaurant and nightclub owners an extra two hours of liquor sales with the SB 930.
This time, it only applies to seven pilot cities, including Palm Springs and West Hollywood, and each city will decide whether to stick with the 2 a.m. closing time or extend sales later. For pilot cities expanding liquor sales, they must create and approve a plan reviewed by liquor control.
Wiener says the proposed legislation would help small business owners hit by the pandemic.
“Those who survived, many of them are holding on by their fingernails and we know that bars, in particular, make money from midnight until 2am or 1.30am – a very short window. It will give them extra time,” he said.
Warren’s bar isn’t in a pilot city, but if given the option, he says staying open two more hours could mean several thousand dollars in extra revenue. But there are challenges to consider, including finding staff to work late and the potential for unruly customers.
“You just have to weigh, ‘Is it worth this extra money I’m earning, or is the responsibility not worth it?'” he said.
Patricia Rillera, California State Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says she is concerned about the increase in the number of impaired drivers on the road and that drunk driving deaths have already increased by 20% in the state in 2020.
“Most impaired deaths occur around midnight and 4 a.m., so that’s exactly within that target population. And research also shows that when people jump into bars, they’re usually weakened later,” she said.
Warren says he would consider staying open after 2 a.m. only on certain weeknights, much like proposed legislation would allow pilot cities to do so.
“It would give everyone else the opportunity to make their own decisions about it,” he said.
The bill was passed by the Senate in January and the Assembly Committee on Government Organization on June 22. He now goes to the Appropriations Committee of the Assembly.