LITTLE ROCK – The Little Rock city Board of Directors voted this afternoon to require all area restaurants to close kitchen service by 7 p.m. every night.
The move comes ahead of the vote tonight requiring businesses with a private club license to move their closing time from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.. Restaurants will be allowed to continue bar service until 9 p.m. under the new rules aimed at leveling the restrictions imposed against all nighttime establishments.
“Heading into tonight’s controversial decision about private club license, we realized it was not fair to force the clubs to close early and shorten the gap between restaurants, bars, and the clubs,” city director Brad Cazort tells us. “So we decided to just back everyone up 3 hours. We found that most restaurants stop kitchen service at 10 and most bars shut down around midnight. Nothing good happens at night after Wheel of Fortune goes off, plus the lack of natural light horrible for snapping pictures of your food. These people should be in their homes anyway.”
The city board said that they expect minimum impact on restaurant salaries, saying everyone will “just find a way to eat their dinner earlier” and restaurants can open dinner service up shortly after lunch is over.
Local restaurants say that this will severely disrupt their ability to generate money from their dinner service.
“Walk in any night, we are at our busiest point in the dinner service around 7 p.m.,” Matt Bell, chef at South on Main tells us. “Most of our customers have jobs that do not get off until 5 or after. They want to go home, change, and maybe hug a kid or two. Now if they want to eat out they need to be here by 6:30 to get a meal or go home and microwave a hot pocket. Let adults decide when and where they want to eat.”
Cazort says that the city board will not accept public discussion on this item until after the private club decision tonight. Only then will they reconsider the restaurant closing ordinance if the private club vote fails.