If you've gone out toGramps
, or any other bars in Wynwood lately, you may have noticed your night ending earlier than usual.
Well, if so, you've got Section 4-3 of the City of Miami's Code of Ordinances to thank.
The ordinance states that "no vendor of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises shall serve, offer to sell, or allow to be consumed or deliver any alcoholic beverages to any person except during weekdays, including Saturday from 7 a.m.-3 a.m. on the following day, and Sunday from noon-3 a.m. on the following day."
Businesses that fall under the ordinance include bars in Wynwood.
So basically, if you order gin and juice at 2:45 a.m., you have only 15 minutes to drink up or toss it, whereas before the ordinance was enforced, you could stay at the bar till the wee hours, finishing every last drop of your drink.
According to bar owners in the area, the ordinance is suddenly being strictly enforced, many times without notice.
"We've been in business for four years, and [the police] have been
totally aware that we've been open until 5 a.m.," Tomas Hussain
Ceddia, owner of the Electric Pickle, tells Crossfade.
"The police came in the
middle of a busy night and closed us down and told us that we needed to
stop serving [alcohol] at 3 a.m.... with no notice ahead of time.
"They said they were going to start enforcing [the ordinance]," Ceddia says. "I've been
in Miami for 15 years and never heard of this law. When we opened our
business, we were open until 5 a.m."
Gramps, which opened its doors this past December, was also affected by the ordinance enforcement.
Adam Gersten owns the bar, located on NW 24th Street between North Miami Avenue and NW Second Avenue.
"The city suddenly started enforcing it within the last couple of weeks," he tells us. "The idea that we have to take away people's drinks at 2:50 a.m. sucks."
Also a lawyer, Gersten says what has everyone confused is the section of the ordinance that states "allowed to be consumed."
The bar owner believes the ordinance was written with good intentions, but he insists that it creates more dangerous circumstances.
"Developers are concerned with the condos and disturbing the peace, and I think
they're right," Gersten says. "[But] people leave during peak drinking
hours to drive ten or 15 blocks to drink."
But if Wynwood bars want to keep doing business, the only choice is to obey the law.
"We're doing what we were told to do," Ceddia tells Crossfade.
And Gersten also intends to abide by Section 4-3. "It's not worth losing your license," he says.
Yet abidance doesn't mean complacence. The Gramps owner actually has a proposal up his sleeve that he plans to present to the city.
His plan would expand drinking hours to 5 a.m. for Fridays and Saturdays, special events, and nights before holidays.
"It's a great balance. It's just about having that option to not turn away your customers."
However, Major Jorge Gomez of the City of Miami Police Department's Patrol Central District says Wynwood bars that remain open past 3 a.m. are breaking the law.
"Their license specifically states that there can not be selling or consumption [past 3 a.m.]," Gomez explains. "You can't have a 24-hour liquor license in Wynwood."
In response to the increased enforcement of the ordinance, Gomez tells Crossfade that it's only a matter of time before these bars get caught, mainly because of complaints.
"You can be doing it for an X amount of time, but that doesn't mean that you will get grandfathered in," he points out. "When the complaints come in... you get caught and you say you used to [close past 3 a.m.], but it doesn't work like that."
Gomez tells us that he does not have immediate access to the source of complaints but summed up the situation, saying: "There's more complaints because there's more bars."
Celso Ahumada, Neighborhood Enhancement Team administrator of the
Allapattah and Wynwood area for the City of Miami, believes that the
enforcement is for security reasons.
"To me, I go by logic," Ahumada says. "Police are seeing the incredible amount of people that
are visiting the area. I think that is the main reason. I think it's a
In response to officials bombarding bars on busy nights and forcing them to close early, Ahumada feels that's a bit drastic. "It could happen. I don't think that's
the way it should be. We have to look at all the angles. I think the
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police is incredibly concerned with the amount of people."
Although Ahumada says he was not aware of how the cops were previously enforcing the ordinance, he supports a reform. "I
wish that everybody would get together and study the area very well and see how it's going. It could be that some of the area could be open to 5 [a.m.]. Why not? But [bar owners] have to prove that you could do it."