The 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. curfew implemented in Baltimore following Monday’s riots is being credited with helping to keep peace. But as it enters its third night, the ban on being out is also beginning to take a toll on bars and restaurants.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office initially said the curfew could last as long as a week, but spokesman Kevin Harris told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that it remains a “fluid situation” and acknowledged that the mayor is concerned about the impact on local businesses.
Much of the hospitality industry relies on income from dinner and beyond to make ends meet. With the curfew, many businesses have been closing by 9 p.m. (or earlier) so they can make sure employees are home before 10 p.m.
“The curfew imposed by the City of Baltimore has had significant impacts on our business both at Family Meal in the Harbor and at AGGIO at Power Plant Live,” Chef Bryan Voltaggio said in an e-mail to Baltimore Fishbowl. “The most affected are the Front of the House Staff: the servers, bartenders, and their support staff. They have lost significant amounts in gratuities that are unrecoverable.”
Liam O’Flynn, owner of the North Ave. bar that carries his name, started a change.org petition urging the city to lift the curfew.
“In this month, we have to deal with taxes, license renewals, and more,” the petition states. “Now you are cutting businesses’, employees’ ability to recover. We have insurance for vandalism, not loss of revenue.”
With the mandated closing time, some restaurants are shifting hours. And they united under the hashtag #BmoreThursday to get the word out. Bookmaker’s in Federal Hill normally doesn’t open until 5 p.m. on weekdays, but they’re beginning lunch service at noon, said General Manager Ben Circelli. They’re also offering a variety of lunch and drink specials, as well as 10 percent off for service industry and 50 percent off for first responders.
Brewer’s Art also opened at 2 p.m., with happy hour lasting for five hours until 7 p.m.
Despite the potential setbacks, the desire to give back remains. Trinacria Italian Cafe is ready to reopen after having its windows smashed in Monday’s chaos, and owners credited the community for helping get it there. At Artifact Coffee on Wednesday night, the weekly Bowl and a Beer was free for all comers.
“Let’s hope that we can get the city to rally behind our hospitality industry, once we get past this,” Voltaggio said.
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