MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Protesters took to the streets Wednesday, rallying to keep nightlife bars and clubs open until 5 a.m. on Miami Beach. City leaders are discussing rolling back the time of alcohol sales to 2 a.m. in an effort to reduce crime in Miami Beach’s entertainment district.
Many hospitality workers are concerned the last-call cutback could drastically impact their business. They say the crimes that are happening on the streets are not happening inside of their businesses.READ MORE: 2 Doral Police Officers Injured In Shooting Near Miami-Dade Police Headquarters; Suspect Killed ID'd By Police
“They’re trying to shut us down at 2 in the morning. They feel like that’s a solution to all of the crime that’s happening on the beach,” said Alex Ruiz, owner of Salsa Mia and Mango’s Tropical Cafe.
“At 2 a.m. we’re super crowded,” he added. “For 30 years, places like Mango’s have built the culture of Miami Beach and now this could potentially put everybody out of business.”
But Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said closing bars and clubs at 2 a.m. is the solution to decreasing both property and violent crimes happening in the entertainment district.
“Over 20% of all the city’s crime comes from just a two block radius,” explained Gelber. “Frankly, the idea that these businesses can’t survive unless they’re open all night is ridiculous.”READ MORE: Shot Doral Police Officer In Serious But Stable Condition, Second Officer Recovering
Bartenders disagree, and say Miami Beach thrives off of nightlife.
“When you come to Miami Beach, people have late dinners. They go have a drink, have a cocktail and then they go to the clubs about 1:30 or 2 a.m. So for us, the hospitality and the bars we make the bulk of our income during those hours,” said Mario Trejo, a bartender at Twist.
If the rollback is put into effect, there may be some exceptions. The mayor said large hotels with nightlife venues inside may be able to continue operating until 5 a.m.
“These are just a few Ocean Drive operators who demand a business model that is open all night and attracts a hard party crowd,” said Gelber.
The mayor said residents have been avoiding parts of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue worried about the violence happening there.MORE NEWS: South Florida PBA Union President Steadman Stahl On Stress Of Being A Police Officer
Residents will be able to voice their opinion on the topic in the November election.