Ordinance would push Tampa bars’ closing time an hour later for RNC convention

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Lunchtime at Hattricks in downtown Tampa was busy Wednesday.

But when the RNC convention comes to town and the security perimeter goes up, no one is sure what business will be like.

“Security is the big thing for us — that’s the one thing we want to know, but nobody’s sure what that is yet,” said David Mangione. The restaurant manager and partner says he’d rather be outside the hard security perimeter so all customers can still eat at his restaurant.

Today Tampa’s City Council endorsed a new ordinance allowing businesses like his to stay open later during convention week.

It’s the same ordinance leaders in Minneapolis/St. Paul passed in 2008.

“It was good and bad. The place that were getting the drive-thru business, the local business, it worked for them because they were able to utilize an extra hour of business, which is always nice,” he said.

But Mangione says he’s learned businesses on the outskirts of the 2008 perimeter did not see an increase in customers, even with later hours.

City Council member Harry Cohen says he pitched the temporary ordinance after attending the 2004 DNC Convention in Boston.

“The convention itself probably won’t let out until 11:30, 11:45.  People will get out. They may be interested in going somewhere to eat, and because of the late hour, a lot of things will be closed,” explained Cohen.

The ordinance would be temporary for convention week only—Monday through Thursday.

It would give businesses an extra hour, until 4 am, to serve customers but it’s not just for downtown Tampa, the ordinance is written city-wide.

“Convention-goers will be staying everywhere,” stressed Tampa City Council Member Lisa Montelione.

City council members voted 6-to-1 to support the ordinance, though it still has to make it through public readings, including one set for Thursday May 17.

Mangione says he’s waiting to see what happens in August.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge boost one way or the other,” he said.

He believes his business will depend more on the security perimeter and whether he’s inside or outside it.

Via Carson Chambers.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.