SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — Many bars and clubs throughout metro Atlanta are allowed to stay open until 3 a.m., and now with a new resolution, the City of South Fulton will now once again be able to do the same.
South Fulton restaurants and clubs had to close at 2 a.m. during the pandemic. Four city businesses requested to go back to remaining open until 3 a.m., and city council listened to them by passing a new ordinance.
Thursday was a busy night in the kitchen of VVS Restaurant and Bar along Old National Highway, and manager Toni Holloway expects it to get even busier.
“It allows us to compete with a lot of the other places that do stay open until 3, and unfortunately we’re closing at 2," Holloway said.
Many neighboring cities, including Atlanta and East Point, are open until 3 a.m., and City of South Fulton Councilwoman Helen Zenobia Willis said that put South Fulton bars at a disadvantage.
“We were the odd ones that never went back to 3 a.m.," Willis said.
Willis sponsored the resolution and said there's one stipulation for city bars and clubs to stay open and serve alcohol until 3 a.m.
“The caveat is they will have to maintain security officers in the parking lot an hour after closure to make sure security concerns are addressed and patrons are safe," Willis said.
That means at least two security guards must remain in parking lots of establishments until 4 a.m. if they close at 3 a.m. VVS Restaurant and Bar pays security, who are primarily off-duty City of South Fulton Police officers, $50 an hour.
Willis said city council decided to make the change with crime going down in South Fulton. City of South Fulton Police data shows in 2021, overall violent crime went down 17% from the previous year.
“If we notice there is a spike in crime, and this is going to cause a problem, we will go back to 2 a.m., but we want to give them a chance," Willis said.
Workers at VVS Restaurant and Bar hope the change will put more money in their pockets.
“It’ll definitely allow us economic growth over here in the community," Holloway said. "It allows the people who work here to make more money.”
The new law in the City of South Fulton went into effect Thursday and is in place seven days a week.
“If they’re not successful, then the City of South Fulton won’t be successful," Willis said. "Our small businesses are the backbones of our economy. We have to do a give and take, but we want everybody to be safe.”