Savannah Considers Adult Swim Ordinance for Bars and Restaurants

A friend of mine recently fell in love with Savannah. He thought the city beautiful and the people lovely, but the fireworks moment was a conversation with a bartender you aren’t likely to find out of Chatham County. The bartender came of age up north, raised by anarchist, hippy parents. To rebel, he joined the military and discovered a fondness for drink. He decided to live in a place where he could always have an adult beverage in hand. Enter Savannah.

Now city fathers have come to regret that easygoing approach to alcohol. A proposed ordinance would make every bar or restaurant that serves alcohol a 21-and-up establishment after 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. They argue the measure is necessary to reduce the high levels of crime the city experiences on weekends. Restaurateurs argue the measure will kill business and the charm that draws tourists to Savannah. The money quote comes from Georgia Restaurant Association representative Mike Vaquer:

“This is a military town. Are we going to tell a 20 year old G.I., who is out on the Southside and wants to go into Applebee’s to eat at 11 o’clock at night that he can’t do so without his parents?”

Government has a habit of denying adult citizenship to 18-20 year-olds who are just that. We will see if Savannah will join that ignoble tradition.


  1. Ellynn says:

    That’s not even the best part of the whole story.

    See, this porposal for the change in the ordinance seem to be ‘worked on’ in the past 6 months, but was not released to the public for review until after 3:00 on Friday August 29th, with the only scheduled meeting for public comment to be held on September 2 at 4:00. (They have since added a meeting later his month). That means they city allowed only a full business day between the release of the proposual and the meeting. On a holiday weekend… when most people head out of town.

    In a city with an army air field and reginal coast guard rescue station in the middle of it, an army base 30 miles away, plus a marine base and an air national guard air strip across the river, they are not the only 18-20 years they need to worry over. In a 4o mile radius you have the college students of SCAD, Armstrong, South University, Savannah State, USC-Beaufort, and Georgia Southern, along with 6 major tech schools. Thats alot of 18-20 year olds that stay up late that would have no were to go but roam the squares.

    Picture this… it’s 10:00 on a Saturday night in November and there is a Georgia/Alabama game that has 5 mins let to play and they’re tied. Who’s going to try and kick out the 19 year olds home for the week end out of Wild Wing? Not. Going. To. Happen.

    They also want to add fees to any business that serves after midnight. To pay for the police. Most bars already hire off duty police for their bars on weekends.

    And lets take a look at the crime thing. The increase is in the enforcemnt of drivers, drunks, and public naughtiness. Out of the number of shootings in the last year, less then 10 % were on a Friday or Saturday night, and maybe 3 outside a bar after 10:00. You want to stop the crime, lets focus on the drugs and the gangs…

    Once more the city clowncle proves it is out of touch.

  2. objective says:

    in towns that pass similar 21-only establishment ordinances, isn’t there a distinction made between bars and restaurants based upon the % of revenue from alcohol or food?

    • Ellynn says:

      Savannah has one and they want make those restaurants that meet the food requirement complete only 21 or over after 10:00, cause we all know the 20 year olds stop eating after 10:00 (sarc).

  3. northside101 says:

    Chet, you are absolutely right about government denying adult citizenship to those 18-20. And ironically, the change to 21 (or should we say, the “forcing” to 21) drinking age came under the so-called states’ rights president, Ronald Reagan. Basically, “oh, your state does not have to raise the drinking age to 21…nor does it have to receive the billions of dollars your state gets in highway funds” But hey, I sure sleep better at night knowing overzealous cops are tracking down 19 and 20 yr-olds on our college campuses while we read about the daily robbery and carjacking numbers in metro Atlanta…..

  4. saltycracker says:

    Probably the best to listen to are the local merchants /restaurants with an eye to containment to specific non-residential areas. When Ft Lauderdale & Daytona barkeeps and merchants decided enough was enough they moved the party all night crowds on out..

    Ellynn’s local boys points suggest it best to contain it than fight it.

  5. Stefan says:

    Whenever these troubling questions are presented it is important to think about the Founders and how they viewed these issues. James Oglethorpe founded Savannah on four principles. I forget three of them but one of them was “No Rum (or other alcohol).” So I suppose that clears that up.

    • Will Durant says:

      It was just Rum or other spirits I believe. To have outlawed beer or wine even for children would have been considered cruel. Everyone knew it was unhealthy to drink the water. Pasteur wouldn’t be around for more than a century later.

      I wonder how the founding fathers would react to the idea that the federal government has effectively forced a nationwide legal age limit of 21 on the states. Even the Puritans did their fair share of drinking.

    • saltycracker says:

      King George II needed some sober (not drunk) folks between the civilized (slave holding) colonies and Spanish (Catholic) Florida.
      JO thought he’d do a good deed and get the poor out of debtors prison and give them a field to work but soon upgraded that idea.
      Thus began the love of guns and conflict in Georgia.

      • saltycracker says:

        History question, what other countries wanted to send all their broke, deadbeats or criminals to America ?

  6. Doug Deal says:

    Have we all gone MADD?

    Remember when raising the drinking age was about drunk driving by teenagers? Now its restricting their access to food that’s been to close to alcohol because of crime. How about the crime of taking away an adult citizen’s rights? Why not make everything illegal to anyone under 40?

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