Seattle looks into extending bar alcohol service, possibly to 24 hours

Mar 16, 2023, 12:37 PM | Updated: 1:12 pm

alcohol service...

(Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The city of Seattle is gauging interest in extending alcohol service hours past its current 2 a.m. cutoff for liquor sales.

In a late-February survey, the city’s Office of Economic Development asked nightlife business owners if they would support extending hours until 3 a.m., 4 a.m., or even 24 hours.

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Bar staff and customers at Post Pike Bar & Cafe in Capitol Hill told KIRO Newsradio they have mixed feelings, worrying about this decision’s impact on safety if alcohol-serving establishments are allowed to operate all day and night.

“I think 3 a.m., 4 a.m., that makes sense to me, but 24 hours is too much,” said Lilliana Moreno, a bartender at the restaurant.

“It would change everything – it would change having to commute and just safety in general,” she added. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting home that late.”

Post Pike’s current hours vary, but closes at 2 a.m. on weekends, according to its website.

Joe Koenen, a customer at the restaurant, said he thinks there isn’t enough interest around Seattle, as he’s seeing far fewer people go out on the town than in decades prior.

“It’s 8 p.m., people go home, they’ve got Netflix, they’ve got whatever else they’re streaming. They’ve got the sum of all human entertainment on their couch, so going out is definitely on the decline,” he said, adding he’s lived in Seattle for almost 50 years. “I don’t know if being able to drink until dawn is going to help that.”

Koenen said having previously worked in the restaurant industry, he would have appreciated having somewhere to go after his closing shift. He suggested that a special license for after-hours alcohol service may appeal to third-shift workers.

“I think later than 2 a.m. could be chaos, but I do think: there are people who work swing shifts, work later in the evening, maybe they don’t get off work until midnight,” he said. “Maybe those people should have an opportunity to go out.”

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The survey closed March 5, and its results are not yet known, as of this reporting.

Any formal plans to extend hours would mean the city would likely need to request the State Liquor Board make exceptions for local jurisdictions, as it has in the past. While current Washington state law allows localities to set earlier closing times or later opening times, it prohibits sales after 2 a.m.

An official with the city told KIRO Newsradio the survey came from an internal conversation about ways to revitalize nightlife in downtown Seattle and that it is merely meant to gather feedback. The officials said no plans have been made.

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