BAY CITY, MI – Bars and restaurants in Bay City with licensed sidewalk cafes will be able to serve patrons a little longer into the night after recent action by commissioners.

The Bay City Commission approved an ordinance amendment during its Monday, June 7 meeting that extended outdoor timeframe for bars and restaurants with sidewalk cafes, or outdoor dining and seating areas that extend into closed roadways.

Under the approved amendment, businesses with sidewalk cafes will be able to provide outdoor service until midnight and they will be required to clear out their outdoor areas by 12:30 a.m. under the proposal. The amendment was approved by a 7-2 tally, with Commissioners Kerice Basmadjian and Jesse Docket casting the dissenting votes.

The ordinance amendment applies to licensed sidewalk cafes across the city, including those in both the downtown and Midland Street areas.

This change does not necessarily mean that bars will have to entirely stop service hours at midnight, however.

Establishments are still able to serve customers indoors for the remainder of their set business hours once Bay City’s outdoor cutoff time is reached.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services restriction limiting indoor service until a 11 p.m. curfew has expired as of June 1, meaning that restaurants are able to continue their indoor service.

Basmadjian, who oversees a portion of the Midland Street District in the 7th ward, confirmed these details publicly during the meeting with City Manager Dana Muscott.

“If this passes as is that just basically means that they have to be off the street by 12:30 but they can go back in the bars, but they don’t have to go home?” said Basmadjian.

Muscott replied that Basmadjian’s inquiry was correct.

This ordinance amendment was originally introduced during the May 17 meeting to be received by the commission for its first reading. However, the original proposal aimed to have outdoor service hours stretch longer into the night but it was changed after commissioners voiced concerns about issues regarding safety.

The original proposal aimed to have sidewalk cafes cease sales and service by 1:30 a.m. and all areas would need to be vacated by 2 a.m. by patrons.

However, Commissioner Ed Clements introduced a motion during the meeting to amend to proposal to allow service in outdoor areas until midnight instead, which ultimately passed 5-3.

The city verified with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that it would be legal to allow establishments to serve alcohol until 2 a.m., if the city elected to do so, outside, according to the agenda item from May 17.

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