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New York: Extra Winks For The City That Never Sleeps

May 1, 2008

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NYC may now be transitioning to a 2am closing time for bars and restaurants.

Recent graduates, tourists and night owls, take note. New York City, the town revered around the world for non-stop action, may be trending toward a 2am closing time for bars and restaurants.

In the perennial contest between residential and commercial interests that helps to define local life, community boards representative of residents are approving liquor licenses for new establishments only if they close at 2am. At least, that’s what the city’s nightlife industry argued in the New York Post on April 18.

According to the New York Nightlife Association, the community boards have aligned with the State Liquor Authority, which issues the licenses, so that the body rubber-stamps their claims.

New York state law stipulates that the closing time for bars and restaurants is 4am, and the SLA cannot force an earlier closing time on the establishments. However, the law allows community boards to give input on new liquor licenses within 500 feet of where three licenses already exist. Often, the boards leverage their influence on this point to negotiate earlier closing times with business owners who are eager to win the boards’ approval.

Currently, more than 10,000 establishments in New York City are licensed to serve liquor. The nightlife industry each year generates close to $1 billion in state and local tax revenue.

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