Bill would allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. in Michigan

Bill would extend hours to 4 a.m.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 9:03 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As the sun sets over East Lansing, bars and restaurants are already prepping for their 10 p.m. closing time. The service industry in Michigan is on curfew right now, mandated by the state.

In a normal year, most late-night spots stay open until 2 a.m. However, a new proposal in the Michigan House of Representatives could change that.

House Bill 4115 would allow bars and restaurants to stay open, and serve alcohol, until 4 a.m.

Bars and restaurants have had it as tough as any businesses in the pandemic. The goal of this new bill is to help them rebound once the pandemic restrictions end.

“We’ve taken a hit, So anything we can do to help businesses right now we’re taking full advantage of that,” says Johnny Vlahakis, owner of El Azteco in East Lansing.

Vlahakis likes the idea of the bill. It would allow individual cities and municipalities in Michigan to decide if bars and restaurants could stay open until 4 a.m.

Across the country, ‘last call’ times vary. In New York, it’s 4 a.m. In Indiana and Illinois, it’s 3 a.m. Down in Louisiana, they let the good times roll on all night-- they have no universal statewide closing time.

When you look at New York, Chicago, all these big cities, they’re doing 3 a.m., 4 a.m. licenses, and you’re not seeing people crawling home every night,” Vlahakis says.

Crunchy’s Bar owner Michael Krueger thinks serving liquor that late will cause problems.

“Very little positive happens after midnight, let alone 2 a.m., let alone 4 a.m.” Krueger says.

But Krueger also doesn’t think he’ll even get the choice of whether to stay open that late.

“I don’t really foresee East Lansing being one of those places that’s going to allow it,’ he says. “I’m not sure that [Crunchy’s] would participate even if it was allowed in East Lansing.”

“Just because we’re open until 4 a.m. doesn’t mean that people who go out at 8 p.m. are going to stay just drinking and crawl home,” Vlahakis says hypothetically. “The people that go out earlier will go home earlier. It’ll spread out the crowds in the street too.

Vlahakis says he’s grateful that bills like this are at least getting some attention.

“It seems like they are doing the right thing,” he says of the Michigan Legislature. “They are trying to get us back on our feet.”

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