Raleigh restaurant owners: New laws a bust for business

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Some downtown Raleigh restaurant owners claim the city's new sidewalk curfew is a bust for business. The new rules took effect Friday, and the owners said they took a financial hit on day one.

"We've now seen our seating capacity basically cut in half," said Kenneth Yowell, who owns Calavera and Oak City Meatball restaurants. "We saw that we were down (at Calavera) 15 percent in sales from the previous Friday. At Oak City Meatball, we were actually down 22 percent."

Yowell said customers leave when the one o'clock cutoff takes effect.

"When you tell somebody that they have to pick up their food, pick up their drink, and suddenly have to move inside, it's more likely that they don't move inside," he said. "It's more likely that they go ahead and close out and move on to somewhere else,"

The Raleigh City Council passed the ordinance after receiving dozens of complaints from about crowded sidewalks, trash, and noise. The ordinance narrowly passed 5-to-3.

Folks living at The Sir Walter Apartments on Fayetteville Street told ABC11 they appreciate the new rules. The senior center is between several establishments. This weekend, the extra police presence helped residents sleep better.

"They were walking and standing in front of the bars," said resident Allen Jackson.

"Their presence alone was enough to make them calm down and not be as rowdy or loud as they may have been in the past," said another resident, Preston Foster.

Police said they aren't sure how many officers and other city employees were on hand enforcing the new rules.

Restaurant owners like Yowell said they are worried what the ordinance will do to sales in a few months.

Thousands of folks will flood downtown for the Hopscotch and Blue Grass music festivals. The events usually bring in big money for businesses.

"We're the ones that have to explain to them 'I know you had a great time last year, you're enjoying our amazing North Carolina weather, having a beer, and having a late bite to eat, but now unfortunately, we are no longer sidewalk friendly'," said Yowell.

"It seems like very backwards thinking. It's going in the wrong direction from what they (city officials) wanted just a few years ago."

The Raleigh Police Department said officers did not write any citations during the weekend and only handed out warnings.

The ordinance is in a trial period now. The council is going to see how things go in the next three months and evaluate the rules.

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