Athens business owners, county commission settle lawsuit over last call

Business owners in Athens and the Athens-Clarke County Commission have come to an agreement on when bars will stop serving drinks. 

The two groups compromised and set the last call at 11:30 p.m. The bars have to be cleared out by midnight. 

This comes after the county commission previously voted to make the last call 10 p.m. in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Some bar owners filed a lawsuit in response. 

Athens is a city that is made up of 35,000 college students and nightlife undoubtedly plays a big role. 

Some students said they don't think changing the time of the last call will accomplish much. 

“They act like COVID can tell time. What’s changing? From 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. you can get COVID but from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. when bars are open, you can’t?" said Kyle Brooks, a UGA student. 

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Jarrod Miller is the COO of 1785 Bar and Grill and two other local bars.

He said this change-up is just the latest hit for them. They are already restricted to 35 percent capacity. 

“Now we’re getting squeezed from both sides because now we have the 35 perfect capacity, which is still what we have to deal with even with the change in times. But now we have less time to do it. And I guess less advantageous for our industry," Miller said. 

According to Miller, those hours are crucial for staying afloat. 

Miller said he understands everyone needs to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but they’ve already added measures to keep employees and customers safe. 

“We’re temperature checking everyone. Everyone is wearing masks. We have sanitizing stations," Miller said. 

Miller said he and others involved in the lawsuit simply don’t understand how they’re expected to stay afloat. 

“If we’re following all the guidelines, why come at us and affect our bottom line?” 

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