COUNCILMEMBER THOMAS CALLS ON HARRISBURG TO PROVIDE REGULATORY RELIEF FOR BARS, RESTAURANTS

In Council News, Isaiah Thomas, News by PHL Council

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Extended happy hours and bar hours will entice visitors and new residents while provided much needed revenue to Philadelphia schools

Philadelphia, PA. — As Philadelphia begins to reopen, an emphasis needs to be put on Philadelphia nightlife in a way it wasn’t before the pandemic. Councilmember Isaiah Thomas is calling on the Pennsylvania State Senate and Pennsylvania House of Representatives to provide regulatory relief to local bars, restaurants and other liquor licensees. The City Council Arts and Culture Task Force, released March 22nd, recommended that the nightlife sector could be an amenity and tax base for Philadelphia, more so than it currently is. Specifically, Councilmember Thomas is calling for extended bar hours and increased happy hours which will allow for industry recovery, job preservation and a renewed focus on the afterhours aspects of Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector.

“We created lifelines for the hospitality sector and arts community to get through the pandemic but we have to start to think about reopening and the long term,” said Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. “We haven’t properly valued our nightlife community but these businesses and performers are vital to our city. They create jobs, generate revenue, attract tourists and new residents and are the backbone of our cultural identity. By providing much needed regulatory relief, we will see the return on investment from an economic and a social perspective.”

Throughout 2020, while the city was on lockdown, saw a 23 percent decline in liquor-by-the-drink tax revenue collections compared to 2019 which resulted in significant business closures and job loss. The majority of this tax (collected predominantly from restaurants and bars) supports the Philadelphia School District which, in addition to the business hardship, saw budget shortfalls.

As outlined by the City Council Arts and Culture Task Force, extended bar hours and additional happy hours are more than revenue generators. Nightlife is a way for communities to create revenue as well as socialize. Nightlife businesses and performers attract tourists and new residents, give artists and creators preferred venues and spaces – it helps define and anchor commercial corridors and more.

This regulatory relief is more than a means for recovery, this is a way to reopen Philadelphia as a bigger and better City than pre-pandemic levels. This resolution is cosponsored by Councilmembers Parker, Brooks, Henon, Gilmore Richardson, Green, Bass, and Domb.

Read the resolution: CM Thomas Nighttime Revenue Resolution

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