Bar owners react to Mayor Greenberg’s 2 a.m. closing suggestion

Southern Restaurant & Lounge
Southern Restaurant & Lounge(WAVE News)
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 11:32 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After Sunday’s mass shooting at Southern Restaurant & Lounge, Mayor Greenberg called on the Louisville Metro Council to consider closing the city’s bars at 2 a.m instead of 4 a.m.

District 8 metro councilman Ben Reno-Weber, whose district includes the bar strip along Bardstown Road, said he’s open to the idea. However, he also said the issue will require a much broader solution.

“A hundred percent that could be a tool for this,” Reno-Weber said. “But when people keep trying to reduce this to 4 a.m. versus not 4 a.m. and that’s our violence problem, I think we’re really missing the point.”

Reno-Weber said he plans to work with bar owners to find solutions.

“Good operators understand I’ve got people here who are not who are not behaving the way that I want them to and that’s not in their interest either,” Reno-Weber said. “So that we’re not just trying to punish good actors along with bad actors, I think really we need to be thoughtful about what we’re trying to accomplish together, and let’s have that conversation.”

Earlier this month, Reno-Weber was part of a community meeting aimed at searching for solutions to the violence affecting nearby residents.

At that meeting, Alcoholic Beverage Control announced they would be enforcing a zero-tolerance noise ordinance, which will fine bars and restaurants $2,500 for the first offense.

“They announced they were going to really step up their enforcement efforts around noise,” Reno-Weber said. “With the idea that this gives us another tool in our arsenal of dealing with the places and spaces that are not being good neighbors.”

However Todd Moore, the owner of Taj Louisville on E. Market Street, said it feels like the city is blaming the nightlife industry for the violence.

His bar is open until 4 a.m. He says many second-shift workers come in during those early morning hours and closing early would be a huge hit.

“I looked at the revenue just here, and we’re probably talking just between 2 a.m and 4 a.m on Fridays and Saturdays around $3,000 a night, and during the week anywhere from $300 to $500,” Moore said. “You’re taking a huge revenue away from the bartenders. Probably I’ll have to downsize the staff.”

Instead, he said he would like to see a better police presence to support bar owners when dealing with unruly customers.

“When that presence is there, it makes a huge difference about how your crowd acts,” Moore said.

He’s trying to organize other local bars to speak out against the 2 a.m. closing idea. He believes city officials should hear from bar owners before considering such a proposal.

“I welcome the Metro Council and the Mayor’s Office to have a forum,” Moore said. “Bring the bars in and let’s talk about the true numbers.”