Atlanta Public Safety Committee discusses bar hours for MLK Day and Juneteenth holidays

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The debate to allow bars and clubs in the City of Atlanta to stay open late during the MLK and Juneteenth holiday weekends went before the city council’s public safety committee on Monday.

Atlanta city council member Keisha Waites attached legislation that would give bars and clubs the option to sell alcohol until 2:30 a.m. on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the Juneteenth holiday.

“This is not necessarily about extending pouring hours, this is about equity and fairness,” Waites said. “The two holidays that are generally celebrated by African Americans are not included in that grandfathered legislation.”

“The community had accepted us well and we’re looking forward to the summer,” said Javarius Gay, the owner of the Prime on Peachtree Restaurant and Prime Cigar in midtown Atlanta.

Gay told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington his business is booming, but he believes leaving his doors open late during the MLK and Juneteenth holiday weekends would draw in more customers and cash flow.

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“It would definitely help with us being a Black-owned business. It would drive more people out,” Gay explained.

During the discussion on Monday, the committee learned the Juneteenth holiday was already added to the existing legislation last year.

“The substitute did have to add Juneteenth language but it’s simply because the original legislation inadvertently omitted it,” Amber Robinson with the City of Atlanta Department of Law said.

MLK Day is still on the table.

“The administration is in the process of kicking off a nightlife economics study and just to reiterate, we are requesting this paper be held until that study is completed,” Atlanta Deputy Chief of Staff Theo Pace said.

“It all should be balanced and treated like all the other holidays,” Gay told Washington.

The administration said they will next review recommendations to the Alcohol Technical Advisory Group III.

If the legislation moves forward, it will go before the full council for a vote.

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