Monday, December 2, 2013

Charleston County closes bars at 2 a.m.

Donut hole eradicated

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

  • Nathan Rupert via Creative Commons
Back in the coke-fueled ’90s, tattoos were still illegal, mini-bottles were the rule, Moulin Rouge was everyone’s favorite dance club, and bars in Charleston stayed open until the wee hours of the morning. Old-timers (albeit vaguely) remember stumbling around the bars of the King-George-Burns area, finally leaving the original A.C.’s as the sun came up on King Street, which was littered with trash and sometimes fresh piles of feces.

One of the first big stories I wrote back then was about a pending fight to close bars at 2 a.m., spearheaded by hoteliers and business owners tired of the rowdy scene that attracted degenerates and street kids to the area.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, the bar owners lost their battle to stay open late (after many legal challenges), and the City of Charleston finally passed the area’s first bar-closing ordinance, sending crowds en masse at 2 a.m. across the James Island connector to the The Reef (now the Oasis) on Folly Road, where a donut hole of unincorporated Charleston County allowed them to stay open as late as they chose. As the law of unintended consequences sent revelers out looking for the next late night party, surrounding municipalities followed Charleston, including James Island, closing bars earlier and putting an end to the Reef’s brief-lived hotness.

So what a shock it was to learn that there still existed that unincorporated Charleston County loophole. Playing catch-up, Charleston County passed an ordinance last week to prevent bars from operating between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. We’re not sure what honky tonks might have stayed open to the wee hours, but somebody, somewhere has to be disappointed. 

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