Louisville’s 4 a.m. bar closing time is here to stay.
Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong, of District 8, is backing off a proposal to rein in the city’s alcohol service hours from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. She had put forward the proposed ordinance last month in the hopes it could alleviate Louisville’s increasing gun violence. Chambers Armstrong represents a district that includes most of the Bardstown Road area, which saw three shootings near bars in the past two months.
At a press conference on Thursday, the council member said she plans to amend the ordinance to focus on cracking down on bars that allow guns and drugs on their property.
“Those businesses should be on notice that they are going to be facing increasingly targeted enforcement, and the bar industry is a partner in making sure we are flushing out those bad actors,” Chambers Armstrong said.
The new proposal would fund the hiring of three more officers in Louisville’s Alcohol Beverage Licenses (ABC) office who could focus on late-night enforcement. Chambers Armstrong said ABC currently has just 7 enforcement officers that primarily work during the day. The new positions would cost $370,000.
The proposal also calls for the creation of a work group of bar and restaurant owners from across the city. The group would put together training courses on public safety best practices for other bar owners and their staff. Chambers Armstrong said topics could include everything from “firearms in bars and firearm safety, to how to spot an overdose and administer Narcan.”
“They will be free,” she said. “We want to, if we make these resources available, make sure that they’re really being taken advantage of. That’s where our partners in the bar industry are going to be imperative.”
Chambers Armstrong said she devised the new plan alongside some bar owners who opposed her original proposal.
Kelsey Westbrook, beverage director and events coordinator at NoraeBar in NuLu, was one of them. At a public meeting at Highland Baptist Church last week, Westbook told officials it would further harm businesses that barely hung on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An online petition against the proposal collected 995 signatures as of Thursday.
Westbrook said she’s now supportive of the compromise.
“We’re coming out with additional resources to protect ourselves and protect each other, so I think this is the best possible scenario,” she said.
Louisville Metro Council will still need to have public hearings on the proposal and take a final vote on it, a process that is likely to take weeks. Chambers Armstrong said after having early discussions with her colleagues, she thinks the plan has widespread, bipartisan support.