Charleston Late Night Entertainment Ordinance could soon be updated

CHARLESTON, S.C (WCBD) – An ordinance in Charleston that regulates late-night alcohol service could soon see an update after nearly 10 years.

City officials are looking to revise Charleston’s Late Night Entertainment ordinance, which applies to bars and restaurants that have a permit to serve alcohol after midnight.

According to Deputy Chief Dustin Thompson with the Charleston Police Department, the revised ordinance would require businesses to come up with their own safety plan to submit to the city.

It would also lay out other guidelines for businesses to follow after-hours.

“We talk about safety and security of your business, cleaning up after yourself, making sure you have an emergency plan in place, a safety plan in place, and making sure you have enough staff on hand to handle anything that’s going to happen after 12 am at night,” said Thompson.

Thompson said if an establishment violates the revised ordinance and is issued a citation, they will have to meet with the city’s legal staff to hear recommendations on how to make the business safer.

If a business is issued a second citation within the same year, Thompson said they could lose their permit to serve alcohol past midnight.

“We don’t want to ever get to that point, we want to do everything we can to establish a safe environment,” said Thompson.

Charleston’s current Late Night Entertainment ordinance was enacted in 2013. Thompson said recent incidents downtown put more emphasis on the need for change.

“I would say that a lot of things that triggered this were some incidents that happened in our entertainment business district downtown,” said the deputy chief. “We’ve had fights we’ve had some shootings, we’ve had some significant events and we need to do everything we can to keep the public safe.”

A committee made up of city officials from different departments has been working on a revision draft for over a year now. They’ve recently consulted with business owners to get their feedback, including Roy Neal who owns El Jefe Texican Cantina on King Street.

“I think it’s really good. There’s some revisions out there, but its not a one-size-fits-all. If you’re a small restaurant, it gives you some flexibility. If you’re a larger restaurant and you have more impact on King Street, then its got some ideas on how to make things better,” said Neal.

Charleston’s Business License Committee recommended the revision go to the city council. Officials hope that happens later this month.