BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A debate is brewing over what time bars should close in Erie County.
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs told News 4 the current 4 a.m. “last call” is too late. He’s proposing Erie County roll back bar closing time to 2 a.m.
Along with a group of bar owners, Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joe Lorigo thinks an earlier last call is a bad idea.
Jacobs told News 4 the change could help combat drunk driving, and deter people from other counties from coming here just to drink.
He stressed that Erie’s surrounding counties all have earlier last calls, and told News 4 he believes both people and business would adapt.
“A lot of people were concerned when we got rid of smoking in bars, that all these bars would close. And now you see the adjustment and do we see many closings as a result of smoking? I don’t think so,” he said.
But in a statement, Lorgio said “Mandating an earlier closing time for bars will not solve the serious problem of drinking and driving. In fact, it could place more intoxicated people on our roadways at times of higher traffic, and therefore increase the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents.”
Bar owners are giving the proposal mixed reviews. Some downtown establishments are on board with Jacobs. They told News 4 a 2 a.m. closing time would give their employees a chance to get home at a reasonable hour.
But smaller operations, in Allentown and Elmwood Village, are outraged.
“If we still allow all these government regulations forcing us to do things that we’re not actually doing right now, then we’re just getting more and more government. More restrictions, more red tape,” said Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Acropolis on Elmwood Avenue.
Lorigo said he’s open to discussing ways to curb drunk driving in the County, but that this change isn’t the way to do it.
The County Legislature will have to give the OK before the proposal can move forward.