City Council reviews bar closing time

By: Jenn Schanz 

These days, the party doesn’t stop in Lincoln until 2 a.m.

A change to the Lincoln Municipal Code in the the fall of  2010 allowed bars to stay open an extra hour from their usual closing time, which was 1 a.m. The amendment required data be collected by the Internal Liquor Committee, so that the City Council could review its decision.

Well, the numbers are in, and they suggest the change was a good thing.

“Lincoln patrons are now less likely to drive to Omaha or even start their evening in Omaha knowing they had an extra hour available to them,” says Linda Major, an Advisor for the Internal Liquor Committee.

Crime numbers show longer bar hours don’t lead to public safety issues, a concern opponents of the change had back in 2010. Since then, police calls have stayed consistent, and are spread evenly between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

There’s also been a decline in disorderly house citations. The Committee says with the extra hour, bar go–ers tend to trickle home instead of rushing out all at once, which may have impacted that decline.

“We look at the assaults in the downtown again, West Haymarket and Haymarket area, and found that those again, are fairly consistent,” says Capt. Joy Citta of the Lincoln Police Department. 

Downtown bars tend to attract business until 2 a.m., but not all locations reap the benefits.

“We definitely did try it, it just really didn’t fit into our business model,” says Brooke Thernis, Assistant Manager of Brewsky’s at 27th and Cornhusker location. 

Still, most bar owners say regardless of whether they extended their hours, the option is a good thing.

“I think it is definitely beneficial. I mean if you’re getting that clientele kind of more downtown where there is a lot of foot traffic and stuff like that,” Thernis says.