Cold weather stymies bar owners’ rally at City Hall

LYNN – Braving the cold, blustery winds, a small crowd of roughly 15 people gathered together at City Hall Monday to voice their opinions on the rollback of bar hours from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. that has been in effect since Jan. 2.While the crowd was originally expected to swell to over 200 people during the three-hour rally from 2-5 p.m., only three bar owners and a handful of patrons were huddled together by 4 p.m. in an attempt to draw attention to a loss of business at local bars and clubs.In total, 98 liquor licenses have been handed out in the city, with 46 establishments holding 2 a.m. licenses that are now required to shut down at 1 a.m.Staring out at the mid-afternoon traffic, Cache Night Club owner Robert Carrion said the event, organized by the Lynn Bar and Restaurant Association, was ultimately hampered by bitter temperatures.”I know the cold has kept a few people away, but we wanted to come out and let people know that we are trying to find some common ground with the mayor (Edward J. Clancy Jr.), and that we are asking to have a meeting with him,” he said. “We’re just trying to survive.”Referencing a stabbing that took place at Cesar’s Palace shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday, Carrion said the incident certainly didn’t help the bar owners situation.”It’s sad that it happened, but it’s also the perfect situation for the mayor to use against us,” he said.Chris Brown, owner of the Sand Bar on Washington Street, said the bar owners decided to forgo any signs for the rally so that it would have a more professional feel to it.”We wanted to present our case in a positive way to get noticed,” he said. “We assumed that the mayor would probably avoid the event because he has shown and demonstrated that he doesn’t care about the community and businesses with this rollback.”Brown said the rollback has had a huge financial impact on local bars, including his own business, which is reportedly down 77 percent.”The only good news with the loss of business is that I am now paying less sales tax for the state,” he quipped.An occasional honking car horn could be heard at the rally, which Carrion acknowledged with a wave, as two Lynn police officers quietly stood by and observed the scene.The honks of solidarity appeared to be uplifting to Carrion, who said he and bar owners have been trying to reach a similar level of commonality with Clancy in order to have bars remain open until 2 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.So far though, Carrion said he has yet to receive a response.”By now (Clancy) knows very well where we stand and what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “But he doesn’t want to sit down with us.”Fran’s Place manager Robert Muise chimed in and said he is starting to wonder whether he needs to get a second job to supplement his income now that business at the bar is down.”The mayor doesn’t care if our customers go to Boston to get an extra hour,” he said. “Business is so bad.”

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