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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

Rick Day

November 18th, 2009
8:08 am

re: 24/7 district: I’d put these in areas where there is little or no impact to residences. There are many commercial zones in Midtown (Spring south of 5th, W. Peachtree, etc) where few people, if any, reside. Put a 1000 ft restriction, allow those few residences affected to fill out a simple form acknowledging the venue’s privilege to stay open 24/7 and you solve the biggest issues Buckhead had 6 years ago.

It's all about crime

November 18th, 2009
7:46 am

Sorry, but I too agree that crime is what made Atlanta have to change. Like others stated, you can thank the Ray Lewis incident as being one of the biggest factors. While I agree it’s great for a big city to have a vibrant night life, people can’t be afriad to be in the city at night either…You can thank the incompetence of the Shirley Administration for not handling the crime problem.

Just look at Underground Atlanta. Back in the 60s and early 70s, that was a happening place. Now, I wouldn’t be caught dead there (no pun intened). Get rid of the crime elements affecting our city, and the problem will be solved. NY is the largest city in the country and is statistically safer than Atlanta…

Voice of Reason #1

November 18th, 2009
7:33 am

[Uh, NO I hadn't already voted in this poll; check your system, please. And for the record, I voted "No."] The problem in Atlanta is crime. And while I hate to agree with CC above, when Buckhead became “BuckHood” the perception of safe, enjoyable fun in Atlanta plummeted. Ray Lewis’ incident, etc. was ~the beginning of the end. 2:30AM is more than enough time. There’s not much good to happen after midnight anyway. Go home and make love or sleep off that alcohol. I don’t live in the city proper anyway (I like to be safe and see my property value go up), an am glad I didn’t move to Buckhead as I’d initially planned. VOTE for MARY NORWOOD!!!!!!!! You people better get out there and vote if you want a change from what has become atl’s pathetic norm.

Trevoir Hudson

November 18th, 2009
7:03 am

ABSOLUTELY in favor of returning closing time back to 4AM (and last call @ 345am).

I am a native NYer who have resided in Atlanta coming up on 15 yrs now (so I’ve been here for pre-Olympics and during Atlanta nightlife hay-days). It’s time Atlanta face reality and start acting like a MAJOR METROPOLITAN city it is versus trying to maintain this small, southern city of the Gone With the Wind days.

Years ago, those residing in Buckhead were younger and in favor of bringing Atlanta’s nightlife there (taking it away from south and east side cities like College Park and Decatur) because it provided their businesses traffic and revenue. Now they’ve “matured” and received more than just the business traffic and revenue that came with being Atlanta’s nightlife area, now they want it residential again. Come on, we can see through all your intentions.


November 18th, 2009
1:45 am

Oh, Atlanta… You need to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and brush yourself off. Your life depends on it. There needs to be 24/7 sales in the grocery stores. Build dog and horse tracks (Hey, Florida can do it and is overrun by old farts!) and REAL casinos (not the plastic ones that the lottery commission is trying to push – lol!) There are many horse farms that supply other states. We need tourism dollars and not just from trout fishermen and campers. There needs to be clubs that can stay open around the clock if they so chose and if they meet restrictions concerning neighborhoods etc. There needs to be live entertainment in the parks every weekend. We need 24 hour public transportation. We need the belt line! There are people that work and play all hours of the day, support them, they pay taxes too. We have raised a brave and beautiful city, we put alot of work into it, we can’t sit back on our laurels, we will get passed up and wither. Like a horse race, everyone cheered Atlanta on as she passed all the other horses, heading to the finish line and damn if she didn’t stumble and fall all over herself. Come on Atlanta – GET UP! In this beaten down economy, you have to draw people here, not just milk them as they pass through the state to get to Florida! The new city buzz line needs to be….. DESTINATION: ATLANTA!


November 18th, 2009
12:58 am

Glad people like Matt B. chose intown and not East Cobb. Not!


November 18th, 2009
12:57 am

Build it right and good things would have happened. Atlanta in the 90’s was still raw clay and it’s pretty hard to say that between the city government and the freedom given to developers that we have anything here to be proud of. The condo glut is ghetto waiting to happen. Street level is harsh sterile concrete and prefab facades and not somewhere you want to hang. The streets are not safe. Public transit has been a joke since the get go. Riding bicycles takes courage. Blacks are reacting to gentrification. Whites are bringing their uptight suburban value systems with them. No noise! Black people are scary! More speedbumps everywhere! Basically, it’s go out to eat then rush home to watch TV. I remember sitting in bars on Peachtree and 9th, hanging out with people of all places and colors and art students until 4am or later and walking around midtown without getting jacked. Now intown and Alpharetta are the same. Crappy. Way to go Atlanta. One giant ass strip mall.


November 18th, 2009
12:17 am

Atlanta desperately needs 24/7 nightlife again to set itself apart from its’ competitors in the convention business. Atlanta needs it for its’ economy . . . more hotel rooms, more taxi rides, more gas, more tax, more liquor tax, more conventions, more visitors, etc., etc. City officials have no clue the amount of damage that was done by closing Backstreet — an Atlanta institution — a place everyone, including out of towners and international visitors knew where to go after hours when visiting from out of town. Unfortunately, for many people, that has been taken away. Having 24/7 clubs also helps the earlier bars . . . more people want to go out because it doesn’t have to end at 2:30am. To the person who claimed later bar hours or 24/7 clubs would require more police and therefore not be worth it, why not apply that same argument to large conventions? Maybe we can’t afford to host conventions of 50-70,000 people because “we don’t have enough police”. It is a specious argument lacking in true factual evidence. Atlanta has been hurt more by the early closing hours than most people realize — you’ve killed the entertainment, nightlife, bar business — no one wants to open a new club and many tax-paying residents (including this one), visitors, and people who enjoy having a good time have been disenfranchised as a result.

Matt B.

November 17th, 2009
11:55 pm

As a 26 year-old professional male who enjoys going out to Buckhead, I think the 2:30am last call is adequate. The kind of people who want to stay out until 4am are better off in Miami anyway. Take the party back to your place after 2:30.


November 17th, 2009
11:25 pm

This is the only way I can see staying in Atlanta. People were getting murdered in Buckhead and they blamed time, as if people were perfectly fine but at 3:45 suddenly got this urge to shoot somebody. A murderer is a murderer, no matter what the time is. Those clubs and that whole scene is gone now anyway. My part of town has suffered extensively from this change. Atlanta is a city of young people, and young people like to go out. The downturn in conventions has definitely hurt our economy. People want to have fun, there’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s paternalistic as hell to try and tell people “nothing good happens after 2am”.