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RAMW Commends Council on Extended Hours Vote

May 14, 2012
Contact: Betsy Allman, Policy Advisor
202.331.5990 or
                                            Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington
                                           Commends D.C. Council for Taking Critical First Step
                                            Toward a Vibrant World-Class City in Approving an
                                             Initial Partial Extension in Alcohol Service Hours
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2012) – The D.C. Council this afternoon took a historic first step in voting preliminary approval of a partial and modest one-hour extension in the maximum allowable alcohol service period at the city’s restaurants, bars and hotels.
The Council, in a voice vote, approved the measure as part of Council Bill 19-743, the “Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Act of 2012,” allowing for the service extension option on a total of 19 holiday dates in the initial annual period beginning October 1.
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) President Lynne Breaux heralded today’s legislative action as “a welcome move toward enhancing the District’s reputation as a dynamic and thriving world-class city with an evolving 24-hour economy,” adding that the plan “will allow the city to better and more fully accommodate a growing population with diverse working and living schedules, and represents the first step toward an inevitable, across-the-board extension of hours.”
The legislation, if approved next month at the Council’s subsequent session to finalize the city’s annual budget, would result in the District joining eight states in allowing on-premise alcohol sales at restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels until 3:00 a.m. on weeknights and six states permitting sales until 4:00 a.m. on weekends.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray had originally proposed a year-round extension in service hours, to generate an additional $3.21 Million in sales tax revenues from extended sales of both food and beverage at the city’s hospitality venues. The mayor’s proposal was designed to help the city close a projected $172 Million deficit in the annual budget. Council Chair Kwame Brown instead proposed an alternate plan to initiate extended service hours on selected dates in the coming fiscal year, generating a projected $2 Million in additional sales tax revenue.
Chairman Brown’s proposal will again allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. and restaurants to serve around the clock during the days leading up to the Presidential Inauguration in January, as was done in 2009, and also provide for a one-hour extension of current hours on seven federal and D.C. holidays, and on the four specific holiday weekends including New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The chairman’s fiscal calculation accounts for the fact that the New Year’s and July 4 holidays do not fall on weekends in 2013.
D.C. Council member Jim Graham was the only legislator to voice opposition to the revised plan. A separate idea proposed by Graham in recent weeks to impose a nearly 400% increase in the alcohol excise tax in order to generate additional funds was not introduced by the Council member. Observers have credited District hospitality businesses and the local alcoholic beverage industry with successfully building opposition to the proposal among Council members, who chose instead to follow Mayor Gray’s lead in not raising city taxes or fees in approving the District budget.
The hospitality industry in the District is primarily made up of small businesses but as an economic segment contributes over $2.5 billion to the District economy and employs upwards of 48,000 individuals. “In addition to the economic impact, the contribution of restaurants to the vitality and quality of life of this city is huge, and today’s partial extension of hours represents a recognition of that by those in the John A. Wilson Building,” said Breaux.
About RAMW
Established in 1920, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington was formed to unite, represent and promote restaurants and the regional food service industry. Today, RAMW has more than 700 members in the District, Northern Virginia and Maryland and serves as the voice of establishments ranging from casual eateries to internationally acclaimed fine dining restaurants. For over 90 years RAMW has been "fighting for the right to eat, drink and be merry – hospitably, responsibly and profitably®."
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