The thousands rushing into Philadelphia at the end of the month looking to celebrate with drinks or drown their sorrows over the four-day Democratic National Convention are in luck: Bar hours will be extended until 4 a.m.
At least for some businesses.
Tucked away in Pennsylvania’s sprawling revenue package signed by the governor on Wednesday is a provision for a one-time “national event permit” that temporarily suspends the usual 2 a.m. closing time for select bars in the city.
“This is great for our hotels and the delegates,” said Ed Grose, spokesman for the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. “It’s also good for our hotel employees, our servers, who will have the opportunity to make a little extra money during the convention and better serve our visitors.”
But there’s a catch.
The only bars, hotels and restaurants allowed to push back last call are those hosting official DNC events. The rest of the city’s restaurants and bars will have to abide by the standard 2 a.m. close time.
“If you’re like Ed’s Bar in Fairmount, chances are, you’re not going to be able to do it,” Grose said.
The one-time special permit will cost convention planners $5,000, but there is no expense for the benefiting restaurants and bars. All permits the DNC approves after the first one will come at no cost.
DNC officials are still figuring out what businesses will be included in the permit application, but more than a dozen hotels around Center City are expected to be included in the initial permit, according to Grose.
“For subsequent permits, we’ll require DNC approval of each event directly connected to the convention before we’ll permit for the extended hours or for them to bring in donated alcohol,” said Elizabeth Brassell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
State Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks, pushed for the privilege, saying it happened during the Republican National Convention in 2000.
So, he said, it’s only fair.
“A lot of us recognize that this is a special situation. It’s something that has a tremendous economic benefit to Philadelphia,” said Petri.
Fergus Carey, owner of Fergie’s Pub on Sansom Street, isn’t hosting any official convention events, said he’s not too disappointed that he won’t be getting additional hours to serve.
“If someone’s having an official event around the corner and they’re making money, I’m happy for them,” Carey said. “Usually, anything after two is sloppy, so I’m not too bent out of shape about it.”
A summary of issued permits will be available on the PLCB’s website beginning the week of July 18.