While the Commissioner had hoped for a more partisan gathering, the crowd on hand for the workshop was decidedly against the proposal to roll back the city’s last call hour. Representatives from many downtown businesses such as Gaffney’s, Putnam Den and Thirteen were on hand to voice their displeasure with the proposal.
Commissioner Mathiesen has put bar owners in the tough position of having to defend their right to make money during the late night hours, while maintaining that they are doing all they can to make sure their customers are not being over served. Mathiesen met with bar owners, officials from the State Liquor Authority and members of the city’s police force March 7 to discuss what responsibilities are expected of bars and clubs in Saratoga Springs. That meeting led to legislation being outlined requiring bouncers to be licensed, and bartenders making sure not to over serve alcohol to their patrons.
“We have a problem, we have some issues in Downtown Saratoga,” said John Albert, owner of the Putnam Den. “How do we solve that problem, [By] education, implementation, and enforcement.”
Albert noted that since the March 7 meeting, that his establishment and employees have been complicit to what was outlined. Bar owners feel there hasn’t been enough time to see if what was outlined at the March 7 meeting will be effective, and that making the change to an earlier last call shouldn’t be considered so quickly.
“We’re here and we’re willing to help solve this problem, and we’re willing to all work together to fix the problem,” said Albert.
While the overwhelming majority of those in attendance were against the proposed change to last call, there were a few who spoke in favor of the change.
“We have deaths, we have rapes, we have muggings,” said city resident Margie Wells. “This is what we’ve become. I think it’s really about time we start looking at this and stop playing games with people’s lives. It’s ruining entire families.”
For now, Mathiesen says he plans to bring the topic of the city’s nightlife to the city council during their April meetings. The State Liquor Authority is still determining whether the change would have to be countywide, or can simply apply to Saratoga Springs.