RNC 2024: Closing time for bars, taverns debated by business owners

Closing time at many bars and taverns will get pushed back during the Republican National Convention in July. But not every community wants extra hours for "last call."

John Suttner knows about limits – and his are written on the door. 

"Nobody needs another drink that bad," Suttner said. 

Suttner's Cornerstone Sports Pub & Eatery will keep its normal business hours during the Republican National Convention – closing no later than midnight. 

Under state law, some liquor license holders in 14 counties surrounding Milwaukee have the option to extend hours and close between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. during the RNC. That is, unless their local government votes to opt out. 

"I’m in support of the extended hours – I think it’s another economic development opportunity," said Oconomowoc Alderman Charles Schellpeper.

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City of Oconomowoc leaders were split on the issue earlier this month – with Oconomowoc Mayor Robert Magnus casting a tie-breaking vote to keep closing time at 2 a.m. A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. 

"I’m not sure why anybody thinks they need to be at a convention the next morning and stay out until the next morning – it’s not logical to me," Suttner said. 

John Suttner

In June, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association urged municipalities to stay the course – saying delegates will not leave Fiserv Forum until 11 p.m. or later. 

Even if there are hundreds of out-of-towners staying in Oconomowoc or farther west, Suttner said there is much more to consider. 

"What we do when we do that – we actually put other people at risk.  Other people on the road, we put our team members here – which I’m most concerned about," Suttner said. 

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FOX6 News reached out to the Tavern League of Wisconsin but did not hear back. 

To contrast, a spokeswoman for the City of Waukesha said at this time, Waukesha has not opted out of the extended bar hours.

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City of Waukesha

"At this time, the City of Waukesha has not opted out of the late-closing provision. As always, we encourage everyone to drink responsibly as we are committed to ensuring the safety of our community during the Republican National Convention."