Closing up the Painted Lady Lounge at 11 p.m. may have been fun for a few weeks, but Hamtramck bartender Andrea Bonaventura is ready to get back to a 2 a.m. closing time.
“It was nice to get home earlier, and my girlfriend was happier,” she said, “but it was definitely hurting my pockets.”
On Tuesday, for the first time in six months, bars and restaurants won’t have a curfew as part of state-mandated COVID-related safety restrictions. Bars like Painted Lady — a neighborhood hangout with a great whiskey selection but no food menu or permanent patio — had fewer options for revenue because of the way pandemic-related restrictions were structured.
“My bar has always had more of a late night, last call type crowd. So the curfew is frustrating for us,” said Bonaventura, a bartender for more than a decade. “A lot of my friends and our customers don’t even leave to go out until 10 or 11 p.m., so we’re missing out on a lot of money.”
Indoor drinking and dining was halted for a second time in November 2020. When indoor entertaining at bars and restaurants was permitted again on Feb. 1, there were restrictions that included a 10 p.m. curfew. That was later extended just one hour to 11 p.m.
Closing early had little effect on restaurants that specialize in breakfast, lunch and even dinner, but it was a great burden on bars and nightlife destinations that don’t focus on food and make much of their revenue on drink sales, particularly from 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Sports bars especially had a rough time with the curfew. Many West Coast games have a later start time, meaning Detroit sports fans didn’t get time to finish watching inside a bar.
“We found that earlier, when you could only be open until 11 p.m. and everyone that was inside the premises other than working had to be out at 11 p.m.,” said Pat Osman, manager of Nemo’s Bar in Corktown. “And you have something that starts in Seattle at 10 p.m., you can only watch part of the game inside. You got to watch the rest outside, if you have outside seating. It makes it difficult, but it all worked out.”
He says the return to normal for places like the historic sports pub will be a long road but “we’re moving in the right direction.”
“Anything that gives us more access to customers that we haven’t seen in so long and new customers is good,” said Osman. “Anything will help the economy somehow.”
Of course, not all businesses will extend hours to 2 a.m. right away. Diners that were open 24-hours may phase in later hours as they determine the need for staff to accommodate the dine-in traffic.
Still, having the option to serve customers inside past a 15-year-old’s bedtime is nice, especially for people who work late or are looking for a post-dinner cocktail.
The lush Candy Bar inside the Siren Hotel is a popular, but very small, cocktail lounge. Owner Kate Williams, who is also the owner/chef of Karl’s restaurant on the second floor, says they’re “certainly looking forward” to the 11 p.m. curfew being lifted.
“Usually the Candy Bar is open until 2 a.m., so we’ll slowly go back to regular hours,” she said. “As a bar with no food, it allows people to come downtown and either get a drink before dinner or after dinner and 11 p.m. (curfew) was a little restrictive of that. We’ll certainly take advantage of not having the bar close at 11 p.m.”
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