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How would 4 a.m. last call change Atlanta entertainment?

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Last call is 2:30 a.m. in Atlanta clubs and bars, like Mary's in East Atlanta, but there's talk again of making it 4 a.m. AJC file photo

It’s baaaaaaack!

Not Atlanta’s 4 a.m. last call, but the discussion about Atlanta’s 4 a.m. last call.

Should last call in Atlanta move back to 4 a.m.?

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Per an AJC story, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall introduced legislation Monday to request the city study revenue opportunities of shifting last call from 2:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. (”Revenue opportunities” = alcohol sales tax.) The legislation went to the council’s Finance/Executive committee for discussion. Hall asked for a summary report by Jan. 30.

Everyone in Atlanta seems to have an opinion on life in a later late-night town. Some recall it fondly, as if we haven’t had any fun since. Some of you are horrified, as if every night before 2004 was sleepless one. (I didn’t live here and I don’t have much context for what life was like. My neighborhood is pretty tame. If Mrs. Birdsong so much as raises an eyebrow, everyone apologizes and disperses quietly.)

For those that don’t remember: the council voted in December 2003 to push back last call to 2:30 a.m. largely in response to complaints from Buckhead residents and violence outside some nightclubs. Since then, entertainment districts have shifted, and so has the in-town population.

We’ve talked before about whether neighborhoods and nightclubs can co-exist, but this takes the question to neighborhoods, nightclubs and hours of the night. Let’s just consider it. Pretend that as of January 1, Atlanta goes back to being a 4 a.m. town.

Knowing how Atlanta’s population and entertainment districts have changed in the last five years, what would happen if last call went back to 4 a.m.? Would you want to live in Atlanta? Hang out there? Travel there?

Before you comment, remember that this is a blog about fun things to do in Atlanta — we’re not arguing about politics or race here. Focus, and treat each other with respect. Let’s push the conversation forward.

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43 comments Add your comment


November 17th, 2009
9:01 pm

I disagree with the tax revenue arguement for 90 more mins of bar time. Note that the cash collected at the door and VIP tables isn’t declared for taxes (let’s be honest) and a few more drinks won’t make a significant contribution to Atlanta’s fiscal problems. If you’re truely concerned about tax revenue generation, then you should consider the $20M+/year that is contributed from property tax from just the new home owners in Midtown. The amount of city resources (police, litter clean up, etc) needed for 90 more mins of bar time, I would spectulate, actually makes a negative effect to the city’s revenue.

Admittedly, I miss the the 24/7 clubs but they would no longer fit in Midtown, IMHO. The dynamic has changed (Google – ‘Midtown Mile Vision’). But I think that there are other areas that could use the clubs. It’ll be interesting to see the effect of the SPI Club in midtown next month too.


November 17th, 2009
4:31 pm

24/7 Districts should include but not be limited to: West Midtown/Westside, Castleberry Hill/Downtown Atlanta/Old 4th Ward, Underground Atlanta/Luckie Marietta District.

I think Midtown/Buckhead/VaHi should remain with the 2:30am closing times If they so desire since the large residential component would obviously come into play.


November 17th, 2009
4:23 pm

Atlanta has become a boring town. I can’t even call it a city anymore. It’s not just the lack of a 4am bar closing time. It’s because so many conservative people moved into Atlanta after the Olympics wanting a city lifestyle.

Many of them wanted to be close to work, too. All of this is fine. But what they brought with them was a suburban view of life. Collectively this new set of Atlantans forced new bar closing hours; forced many gay bars and primarily blacks bars to close; forced the great 24 bars down; made Piedmont Park a sterile museum-like place; forced the bohemian artist mentality out of midtown, Virginia-Highland, and L5P. Atlanta has lost its funkiness, its quirkiness, its soul.

Reinstating a 4am bar closing time would be great. But we need cool clubs again. We need a Stein Club, we need a Backstreet, we need a Rio, a Celebrity Club, a Buckhead bar scene that was fun and the envy of many cities. We need an art scene again to coexist with the bar scene.

There is plenty of warehouse space downtown or on the west side that is not near any residential neighborhoods that could house a 24 hour bar. There are plenty of people in this city with great ideas. If the restrictive ordinances went away, life would return to this city. I don’t hold out much hope.

I can’t explain one more time to visitors as to why they can’t buy wine or vodka at a store on Sunday. It’s just embarrassing. I also can’t explain to my NYC, SF, or LA friends why a club like Vision has such hostility against from residents who oppose its reopening. It is steeped in racism and the fact that a large part of Atlanta wants to tell others to live a conservative lifestyle. Many want everyone to be in bed by 11pm and in church on Sunday. Until this is resolved, Atlanta will remain a 2nd tier town.

Jamie Gumbrecht

November 17th, 2009
3:32 pm

Let’s hear more about this 24/7 district idea — what neighborhoods or areas of neighborhoods would you tap for late hours or a 24/7 schedule?


November 17th, 2009
1:15 pm

As someone thats works in the Atlanta nightlife, I have wanted this change for years. Like it or not, Atlanta is a young, vibrant, Big event and party city. With the money problems the city is facing why not tap into a willing tax base that could boost revenue and bring back the entertainment dollars that flooded the city in the 90’s but has all but gone in this decade. And to the buckhead people, are you telling me that your happier with rows of unbuild businesses that were to replace the bars and nightclubs that for better or worse, brought money in for buckhead. Do the right thing City Council


November 17th, 2009
1:12 pm

I agree that Atlanta’s nightlife has died. Atlanta was definitly the place to be and nightlife was a big part of it. The stopping of alcohol sales at 2:30 and the end of our few 24 hour clubs changed Atlanta forever. Now we are just another Southern city with strict party laws. Who wants to come here? Miami was smart enough to realize what was gained by having a 24 hour district. Clubs in South Beach close at 5am, but the party can go all night in downtown. One benfit to later closing times is that not everyone leaves the club at the same time. At 2:30 everyone is still in the club and all walks out together. Seems like more trouble can brew that way.


November 17th, 2009
12:13 pm

I like the 24/7 idea for specific districts, I agree that it will help out nightlife immensely.


November 17th, 2009
12:01 pm

The nitelife in Atlanta is nothing like it was when I moved to Atlanta, this was once the place that all my friends wanted to visit, now we go to Miami or NYC to party it up. I think that if last call was to go back to 4 a.m. it would make the nitelife much better here and things would be no different than they are now. The city should start to only allow clubs in non residential areas and let them go 24\7 if they want, a more vibrant nitelife and more money for the club owners/city.

Jamie Gumbrecht

November 17th, 2009
11:50 am

Interesting. What’s your view on what would happen if the last call time were to go back to 4 a.m.?

Hospitality Industrialist

November 17th, 2009
11:29 am

Prior to the election of Mayor Franklin Atlanta was known as Hotlanta with a vibrant Hospitality Industry. One of Mayor Franklin’s campaign promises was to enforce the State Law concerning Sunday alcohol sales. The Law states that the enforcement of Sunday sales shall be at the discretion of the local jurisdiction; that meaning that Atlanta could at its discretion haves Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink. The earlier last call and enforcement of the Sunday by the drink sales effectively destroyed Hotlanta and has driven away a huge portion of Atlanta’s convention business to other cities at a time our city could least afford that loss.