Erie Co. lawmaker introducing bill to change bar closing time

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Some local leaders are renewing the push to close bars in Erie County two hours earlier.

Right now, bars in Erie County can stay open until 4 a.m. but they could have to close at 2 a.m. if Erie County Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) gets his way.

Morton is introducing a resolution to change the rules for closing times for bars in the county, to bring the hours more in line with those in surrounding counties. He will join Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and the Amherst Deputy Supervisor for a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the corner of Chippewa and Franklin to announce this latest push.

The proposal to ask the state liquor authority to change the closing times has come up time and again over the years, and has been met with mixed reactions from local lawmakers and from local bar owners.

“This is new Buffalo,” the owner of Soho Burger Bar, Jay Manno, told News 4. “The old Buffalo is steel, and drinking until four in the morning and you know, three shifts. But we’re finally hanging our hat on something else. I don’t really think it makes any sense anymore.”

We do a huge amount of business from those hours and they’re trying to take it away. And the real issue is, do you want to be a big city or do you want to be a sleepy small town? And Buffalo, we’re moving forward, why would we digress you know?” countered Gabrielle Mattina Alfieri, owner of DBGB and Gypsy Parlor.

County Clerk Chris Jacobs, who has been spearheading the most recent push to change the hours, says the move is needed to improve public safety. “Because we’re the only county with a 4 a.m. closing time and all the other counties around us are much earlier, we tend to draw people frequently who have been drinking, the bars close and they want more, so they come into our county,” he said. “Forty percent of all fatalities, driving fatalities, are alcohol related and it’s four times more likely at night.”

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