The Penguin Piano Bar and Nightclub (pictured) is among the downtown Columbia businesses fighting a proposed ordinance to restrict drink specials. | Via The Penguin Piano Bar and Nightclub/Facebook

Columbia bars, restaurants to protest ordinance that would restrict drink specials



Columbia restaurant and bar owners are upset with a proposed ordinance that would restrict drink specials in the city. Some have come together to host a protest at City Hall.

Jesse Garcia, owner of downtown bars The Penguin Piano Bar, Roxy’s and The Social Room, organized a “peaceful protest” set to take place at City Hall before a Monday afternoon meeting on the proposed restrictions. About 800 people expressed interest in a Facebook event for the 2:30 p.m. protest hosted by several businesses.

Mark Sulltrop, owner of 44 Canteen and other Columbia restaurants, is one of the organizers of the protest.

He said the goal is to “show solidarity and make sure people are aware of the different aspects and impacts of the ordinance.”

In February, a draft ordinance was submitted proposing multiple prohibitions, including drink specials between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., “bottomless” drinks at a fixed price and deals for particular groups, like ladies nights.

Monday’s meeting will include an overview of the proposed regulations by the Columbia Police Department, Finance Department, Department of Public Health and Human Services and Law Department. It will also feature an opportunity for public questions and comment.

The proposal comes after recommendations and requests by the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission. In February of this year, city staffers presented a report with research that supported limiting drink specials. An ordinance was drafted after the meeting.

Garcia started an online petition that has about 1,200 virtual signatures. He asks in it to “sign this petition to tell them they need to quit being dumb and leave us the hell alone.”

The protest is hosted by Garcia’s businesses, 44 CANTEEN, 44 Stone Public House, Snapper’s Bar, Get Rad Food and Klik’S Deli & Bar.

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