Grand Island to consider increasing alcohol sale hours

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - If you ever wished the bars were open longer in Grand Island, then this week could be a big one for you. As the push for the city to extend the hours is up for a vote Tuesday night in Grand Island.

In this vote, the city will consider extending alcohol sales an extra hour, from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. It’s a request made by several business owners in the Downtown area.

“I really do hope that they can do this for us because we want to see Downtown to keep growing and progressing,” said Brick House Nightclub and Level Up Arcade Owner Francisco Garcia.

But that’s been hard to do for businesses lately.

”I think with a lot of bars and restaurants still struggling from Covid, we could take that extra hour of business,” said Nathan Stewart, McKinney’s Irish Pub Managing Partner.

Not to mention with the nationwide supply chain shortage impacting Nebraska even harder with one of the smallest unemployment rates, business owners believe the hour extension could potentially attract more workers. According to them, no one wants work for bars that close during the peak time for getting the most tips.

”My bartenders are struggling because we don’t have enough people to help them, so we’re just trying to convince more people that they we need the help, there’s work here and we’re just trying to help people make some more money,” Garcia said.

Francisco Garcia, the owner of Brick House Nightclub and Level Up Arcade, is the person responsible for the city even considering a change in alcohol hours. He hired a lawyer and got other businesses on-board who all agree this would be beneficial for them.

”Even the business owners that wouldn’t benefit from it because they don’t stay open that late, are still on-board with it because they see that we are trying to bring traffic downtown and we want young professionals to come here,” Garcia said.

But for Grand Island Fire Department Chief Cory Schmidt, he thinks this will provide more time for people to get drunk and cause more accidents.

“Over the years we’ve seen fires caused by intoxicated people, vehicle accidents, assaults, at or around closing time of bars and we feel this will just add to our workload but more importantly seeing people get home safe,” Schmidt said.

More often than not, Garcia said people find other places to drink once the bars close because to them, the night is just getting started.

“It’s easier to get people to go home at 2 a.m. than it is at 1 a.m. because they’re still wanting to party at 1 a.m. no matter what we do,” Garcia said.

Garcia wants to find common ground with city agencies and ultimately work together on this. Schmidt said the intentions are there but not sure it’s enough to convince him that extending alcohol hours would be a good idea. However, he told Local4 news he’d be willing to listen.

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