On Private Clubs (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 12:00 am  

When savvy entrepreneurs see a need going unfilled, they form businesses. When those businesses successfully meet that need, they thrive. You know, America.

Now the Little Rock Board of Directors is considering stepping between businesses and their customers.

The issue is closing times for the handful of the city’s private clubs allowed to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. Most bars and clubs in Little Rock are required to stop selling alcohol by 2 a.m., and so most shut down by then.But 13 enterprises have what are called Class B permits from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, letting them serve alcohol until 5 a.m. Only eight of the 13 remain active nightspots, according to the Arkansas Times.

The city board has been considering limiting private club hours for some time, with backers citing public safety concerns. Director Joan Adcock proposed an ordinance forcing the clubs to close at 2 a.m., just as other bars in the city are required to do. City Manager Bruce Moore came back with a counterproposal, one supported by a group of the private clubs; it wouldn’t limit their hours but it would implement enhanced security measures at the clubs.

Directors Brad Cazort and Gene Fortson last week offered what they call a compromise, an ordinance that would close the clubs at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends and holidays. The Board of Directors is scheduled to consider it and Moore’s proposal this week.

The clubs say that cutting back their hours would threaten their business model, slashing their revenue and possibly resulting in layoffs. Data about police calls to the clubs after 2 a.m. appears subject to interpretation.

If public safety is really the issue, then we urge the city board to give the Moore proposal a chance before unnecessarily limiting commerce.



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