Drinking Downtown, After Sundown

City scrutinizes sidewalk bars

May 10, 2006

You're enjoying a cocktail at a sidewalk cafe or bar Downtown. The sun sets. The cops arrive and nab your drink. Ever seen this happen? Not so much. Although Boise City ordinances say that establishments are supposed to stop serving booze outdoors after sundown, it's rarely enforced. Now bar owners and the Downtown Boise Association want to get the outdoors drinking curfew to more closely match the indoor serving deadline of 2 a.m.

"We are currently working with the Boise Police Department and the city to get the ordinance changed," said Karen Sander, the executive director of the DBA.

"I wouldn't say we're 'working together,'" laughed Alison Tate, the assistant city attorney. Restaurateurs came by her office for what Tate euphemistically referred to as "a discussion" with city staff to push for later sidewalk closure times.

Police say they became concerned about sidewalk cafes because the late-night mayhem that occurs at the intersection of 6th and Main in Downtown is getting worse, according to Capt. Jim Kerns of the BPD. "We're most concerned about behavior," Kerns said. "Is it a sidewalk cafe issue, or is it a bigger problem regarding overservice and crowds?"

But Dave Krick, owner of the Reef and several other establishments, is worried the city could kill the golden goose of Boise's summer nightlife if it over-regulates the sidewalk cafes. He acknowledges there have been problems at 6th and Main, but is wary of a too-early curfew for businesses trying to draw customers.

For now, the city and the Boise Police Department, Tate said, have agreed to hold off on enforcing the ordinance until a compromise can be reached.

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