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Tampa bars to close earlier?

Tampa, Florida - Is it a move that will cause massive headaches and paperwork? Or is it the best idea ever, poised to change the social landscape of Tampa?

Imagine for a moment having a nice dinner and a cocktail at midnight or even later. How about a 9 a.m. champagne brunch?

The Tampa City Council will vote on a controversial ordinance on Thursday dealing with this very issue. Several members want bars and restaurants to apply for extended hours, or the establishments will be forced to close at midnight.

While the city council says this will enhance Tampa's social life, bar owners and patrons, especially in Ybor, tell us, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

"This will crush us," said Gaspar's Grotto manager Evan Schiller. The FSU grad and Tampa native insists "we don't need this now. We don't need the interference."

Schiller, along with other bar managers and patrons, say this will cause more headaches.

"These bars and restaurants get most of their business after midnight, " said one patron. "Leave things alone."

But, the council insists only good things can come from this ordinance because bars and restaurants will be able to apply to stay open as late as 4 a.m. or have Sunday brunch hours starting as early as 7 a.m., instead of the usual 11 a.m. Plus, it will keep the bad bars plagued with problems in check because their licenses can get revoked if they break the law.

Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin told 10 News, "It's a very good thing. It will be a retreat, if you will. We had a task force, and we wanted to enhance Tampa's nightlife. This is a good thing and it allows us to keep an eye on the bars that don't follow the rules."

In fact, bars and restaurants that don't follow the rules can have their licenses revoked. On the first offense, it would be revoked for 30 days. On the third offense, it would be gone permanently. Bars would be able to reapply within a year.

The ordinance will be voted on this Thursday at the council meeting. If it passes, it has several hurdles to clear before it would be enacted.  And if it's a yes vote, it would go into effect late next year.

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