Miami Police's Enforcement of Alcohol Cutoff Stirs Debate in Wynwood Bars

"We do have to stop serving alcohol at 3 a.m.," said the owner of the Wynwood bar Gramps

By Justin Finch
|  Wednesday, Mar 6, 2013  |  Updated 11:46 PM EDT
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Gramps owner Aaron Gersten plans to work with other Wynwood bars and city officials on some kind of compromise.

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After a night of good people, good drinks, and good times, many Wynwood bargoers, like Hannah Morton, never want to see the fun end.

"Maybe we could serve alcohol 'til 4 a.m.? But, don't cut us off," Morton said.

The law cuts the partying off one hour sooner than Morton would like in Miami, and in recent weeks, Miami Police have been cracking down at several bars.

"We do have to stop serving alcohol at 3 a.m.," explained Aaron Gersten, owner of the Wynwood bar Gramps.

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Section 4-3 of the city's ordinances says that alcohol can only be served in licensed bars from 7 a.m. until 3 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and from noon until 3 a.m. on Sundays. Still, for many, the ordinance raises questions.

"What time can people stay and drink until? Let's say you've been served your last beer at 2:45, can you drink it 'til 3:30?" Gersten said.

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Over the years, Wynwood, known for its muraled walls and artsy scene, has also become known for late-night bar service, with a few serving well beyond 3 a.m., back when the ordinance wasn't so well enforced.

Some bar patrons want the city to revisit the measure, as Wynwood and other in-town neighborhoods change.

"What is downtown Miami trying to be? Is it trying to be the new, hip place where the true locals come and enjoy themselves," asked patron Viraj Gandhi. "Well, then, you've got to cater to their demands and stay open later."

Gersten said he understands both sides, and plans to work with other Wynwood bars and city officials on some kind of compromise.

"I think the city is receptive to any idea that comes out of here because they want to see it grow," he said.

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