Ordinance change would keep outdoor seating areas open later

LA CROSSE, Wis. — In the city of La Crosse, if you’re enjoying food and drink at a restaurant outside, rules say you have to finish up by 10 p.m., but that could soon change.

A new proposed ordinance would allow places with beer gardens or fenced-in outdoor seating areas to stay open for an extra two hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
Right now, local restaurants can move customers inside after 10 p.m.,  but they say that can be bad for business.  “We just lose a lot of clientele.  It makes people feel uncomfortable, makes them feel like they’re almost getting kicked out of the bar even though we gotta kick them inside the bar, they’re still getting removed from where they were comfortable,” says Dublin Square Bar Manager Greg Tierney.

Even though some people do live in downtown La Crosse, the city is considered a commercial district. 

The folks at Downtown Mainstreet they say they haven’t heard of any late-night noise complaints or disturbance issues yet.  They say having places like Dublin Square open later for business is a good idea.  What they’re concerned about is making sure  residents still feel comfortable if the ordinance passes.


“Obviously it’s a balancing act because of residences and residential units downtown so we want to make sure that if the ordinance is passed that it has enough safeguards to not impact the quality of life for the people living downtown,” says the Executive Director of Downtown Mainstreet, Inc. Tim Kabat.

The ordinance would not apply to eating establishments within 200 feet of any residential area.  The issue is up for discussion at next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. If passed, it would go into effect within a couple of weeks.