Beaufort News

Port Royal considers 2 a.m. closing time for bars and restaurants

  • Rather than requiring restaurants to stop pouring beer and wine at 2 a.m., Port Royal might now consider a new, more restrictive regulation that would force those businesses to kick customers out and shut their doors by that hour.
  • Port Royal Town Council began looking into alcohol sales cut off times last month after the police department said it thought an earlier last call could help quell a recent rise in late-night incidents at Cowboys and Indians, a bar and restaurant on Ribaut Road.

    Council discussed the possibility of a 2 a.m. required closing time during its meeting Wednesday, and many members appeared to support it.

    "It's uniform and it's easy to enforce," Councilman Joe Lee said after the meeting. "I might be called anti-business, but nothing good happens after 2 a.m."

    According to South Carolina law, restaurants and bars must stop pouring liquor at 2 a.m. but can continue serving beer and wine.

    Jurisdictions can set earlier cut-off times for alcohol sales through local law, however.

    The town of Port Royal currently prohibits the sale of beer or wine between 4 and 6 a.m.

    Town Manager Van Willis said the town has looked at three methods of dealing with late night bar incidents. They include:

  • Requiring bars and restaurants to stop serving all types of alcohol at 2 a.m.
  • Requiring bars and restaurants to shut their doors at 2 a.m.
  • Suspending or revoking specific restaurants' business licenses.
  • Police Capt. Alan Beach said after the meeting that he looked into how other municipalities handle alcohol sales.

    "There were more ordinances that use the word 'close' rather than 'stop serving,'" Beach said. "They seem to have more success."

    Town Council is scheduled to have a first reading on the issue at its meeting Wednesday.