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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

j b knows cornbread

November 18th, 2009
12:03 pm

atlanta sucks, thats why i left haha


November 18th, 2009
10:53 am

at Art Vandalay

Yeah, I have no problem with creating districts.

However, I do draw the line at determining what “type” of establishments should be allowed. Let consumers figure that out and by extension, the types of business will too. If the place is doing something illegal, then enforce the law. Precluding honest, normal businesses from operating because of a few bad seeds is a bureaucratic and unproductive approach in my opinion. I also don’t know that your assessment of where conventioneers want to go. I say, provide them with choices and they’ll go where they like. For now, it’s obvious that convention consumers have spoken by telling Atlanta “You’re no fun anymore and we’re going to other places.” It’s up to the city council to fix that ASAP.

Art Vandalay

November 18th, 2009
10:33 am

at JW,
I agree the perception alone to the convention and tourism industries would be HUGE. But there is no reason as i said that neighborhood bar districts that tourists rarely venture to such as L5P and Virginia Highlands, or even now Buckhead need to have a 4am closing. Midtown and Downtown need to be the tourism and nightlife centers and by giving them and them only a 4am last call it will have bar operators lining up to find a locations. But there needs to be STRICT restrictions on WHO is opening the place and WHAT it is because call it what you want but certain night life concepts harbor more crime than others. It needs to be for the tourist dollars and business men here for a convention are going to Ri Ra, or Front page news type places, not Opera.
There also needs to be a huge police present in those areas, like Times Square cops on every corner presence and a very very strict enforcement of the no panhandling law, because a 4 am last call does no good if nobody feels safe there.


November 18th, 2009
10:20 am

At Art Vandalay – only in a restaurant that serves a higher percentage of food than booze; clubs have to be closed.


November 18th, 2009
10:19 am

I’m for doing this – and I don’t think the increased tax revenues would come from the sale of alcohol as much as it would from the recovery of some of our lost convention business. I worked in the hospitality in the late 90’s which as far as I know was the height of convention business in Atlanta (I always heard we were the fourth most popular city in the U.S.). This changed first with Bill Campbell cracking down on strip clubs, and then with the roll back of closing time. I believe both were lame attempts to address crime, when what we should have been doing was putting more officers on foot beats. The idea that 4am closing = more crime is not born out by the City of Decatur crime stats compared to Atlanta’s. Why do those who oppose this idea by citing increased crime want to ignore that fact?

Art Vandalay

November 18th, 2009
10:17 am

also i agree with the suggestions of 24 hr districts. Buckhead and Virginia Highland type areas dont need anything more than 2:30 am, but areas such as Crescent Street and Luckie/Marietta that are tourist spots should be 24/7 it gives visitors something to do and keeps the after hours riff raff contained.

Art Vandalay

November 18th, 2009
10:13 am the first poster, you CAN by alcohol by the drink on Sundays.


November 18th, 2009
9:02 am

4am last call for Midtown

24/7 for all of downtown and parts of Cheshire Bridge Rd/Peidmont area


November 18th, 2009
9:00 am

The following cities have no last call/4am

New Orleans – No last call
Atlantic City – No last call
Miami – No last call
Las Vegas – No last call
BIRMINGHAM, AL – No last call (Yes, Birmingham)

Buffalo, Ny – 4am
NYC – 4am
Hawaii – 4am
Louisville – 4am
Albany, NY – 4am
Alaska – 5am
Peorna – 4am

Jamie Gumbrecht

November 18th, 2009
8:47 am

Hey folks, this is a reminder that this is a space for discussion, not for race-baiting, name-calling or pronouncement for anyone to go anywhere else. This is Atlanta, we’re all here, so let’s talk about the issue — moving last call and what that the result of that would be — respectfully.