Pushing Back Last Call: Good or Bad Idea?

There’s a lot of talk about extending last call in Toronto to give the music industry a boost. Later closing times mean more opportunities to play more sets and more chances to make money at the bar.  “Why can’t we me more like New York state that serves until 4am?”

I’m going to play devil’s advocate. There are some good reasons for staying open later—more chances for bands to play, the potential for more bar sales and so on. But there are also potential problems.

First, a later closing time is tough on bar staff.  When last call moved from 1 until 2am, that required a big shift in lifestyle. There’s a very big difference between getting home at 2:30 and 3:30am. And if you move last call to four, industry folk won’t be getting to bed until 6 or 6:30am. Now you’re basically working an overnight shift.

And second, just because you’re open later doesn’t mean people will arrive at the same time as before. If you’re open until four, you’ll have more people pre-drinking at home until midnight. Then they’ll go to the bar for their 3-4 hours, so the next gain is zero.

I see both sides of the argument.  And there are other issues, too:  transit, noise, impaired driving and so on. If you want weigh in—maybe you work in a club or a bar and you’ve got serious skin in the game or you’re in a band who needs that extra stage time—let me know what you think.  This is a discussion worth having.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

4 thoughts on “Pushing Back Last Call: Good or Bad Idea?

  • November 29, 2016 at 10:50 am

    20 year old me would have been all over this idea.

    35 year old me worries that my favorite bands won’t get on stage until 3am – well past my bedtime.

  • November 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Personally, I don’t see why alcohol can’t be served 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Leave it up to each establishment to decide when/if they serve. The novelty of being able to order a drink at 6 am will wear off quickly.

    • November 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Neither do I, actually. But governments would never treat its citizens like adults…

  • November 30, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been DJ’ing in the Bar/Club industry for 20 years and I’ve noticed a steady decline happening for the past 5-6 years. Club goers are showing up much later and like you mentioned in the article, they’ve been pre-drinking and some are showing up intoxicated. I would be surprised if staying open later would increase sales for the establishment. With all the drawbacks that could potentially take place, I don’t think it’s worth it.


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