Bar Owners, Patrons: Late Last Call Hits the Spot

By Clarence Williams and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 18, 2009; 10:45 AM

After a second night in which drinking hours in the District were extended for the inaugural period, bars and their patrons appeared satisfied early this morning with the controversial policy.

Some officials had expressed fears that disorderly drinkers could tax police resources at a critical time, but as of 5:30 a.m. today no disruptions had been reported.

Instead, interviews this morning showed that for some people and places, the later hours hit the spot.

"If ever there was a time to celebrate it's right now," said Brandon Gray, 25, an electrical engineer from Fort Washington. Gray, who was at Fado, in the Chinatown area, is a strong supporter of President-elect Barack Obama.

"I don't normally take drinks until five o'clock in the morning," said Gray's friend Brittney Jiggetts, 23, of Waldorf, "but for Obama I'm going to drink until 4:59." (Although the plan once was to allow alcohol until 5 a.m. the actual deadline was changed to 4 a.m. to help satisfy critics.)

At Tabaq Bistro, near 14th and U streets, Christina Denkins said that the extended inaugural hours gave the District an entertainment edge over Los Angeles, her home town.

The 28-year-old concierge had flown from California to Atlanta and then drove with a friend Saturday to Alexandria, arriving about 10 p.m.

As she nursed a mojito while a deejay spun old-school rap, she made a distinction between the District and L.A., where she said closing time is 2 a.m.

"When it closes in L.A. early, my friends and I wish they would stay open later," she said.

At least one person encountered last night did not appear fully satisfied with the 4 a.m. close.

Brad A. Schenck, a documentary filmmaker from Miami, who was interviewed at Tabaq, was unready to abandon his Guinness when closing time suddenly arrived.

"Extended hours?" he asked. " I can't believe it's already closing time."

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