Restaurant association says no to Charleston bar ordinance

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The proposed midnight closing bar ordinance for new businesses along downtown Charleston's entertainment district has a new opponent -- the state's Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The group issued a statement Monday afternoon.

"The SCRLA respectfully, but in the strongest possible terms, opposes the ordinance being considered by Charleston City Council," the statement reads. "If passed, this ordinance would not only have a negative economic impact on owners and employees at bars, restaurants, grocery stores, gas station, and other establishments that sell alcohol, it would also decrease the amount of state and local taxes that would otherwise be collected."

The group speculated that the passage of the ordinance by city council would stifle growth in tourism, the city's primary industry.

The measure was proposed in May by Mayor Joe Riley, Police Chief Greg Mullen, and the city's Director of Planning, Tim Keane.

"It is critically important that we effectively manage this area to ensure its continued success," the letter to the council reads.

The proposal suggest limited operation of gas stations, restaurants, and places that sell alcoholic beverages. However, the proposal makes an exception for places that offer alcohol or food that also house more than 20 rooms for overnight stays.

Officials say this would only apply to new restaurants and bars moving into the proposed Entertainment District. Existing companies would be grandfathered in, they said.

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