By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Nightlife Blogger
The vibrant nightlife of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is being dimmed by a new measure put forth by the mayor.
With the stroke of a pen on a new municipal code, Mayor Romero has hit bars, pubs and clubs where it hurts the most: by restricting the hours they can sell alcohol. Starting in November, bars can only sell alcohol on weekends until 2 a.m. All other days it’s 1 a.m., including Sundays, unless Sunday is part of a holiday weekend.
Previously, bars would stay open until 4 or 5 a.m., with people hanging out in the streets – cocktails in hand – all during the prime party time. That was a big part of the San Juan nightlife culture. It must be pointed out that in an obvious move to keep tourists happy with cocktails well into the morning, the regulation does not apply to hotel bars.
“The more the code is complied with, the stronger the economy of San Juan, the stronger the tourism,” the mayor said.
If that sounds like mayor-speak mumbo-jumbo it is, but the move was made in reaction to some recent violence in the city. There was the fatal shooting on Loiza Street of two NYU students who were vacationing in San Juan and a confrontation at La Perla in Old San Juan that led to the stabbing of three tourists.
It must be pointed out that the location of the shooting and stabbings did not occur in the main nightlife areas of San Juan. In Old Town, this is the super-lively street of Calle Forteleza – mid-town in Old Town – and the more mellow San Sebastian Street. Many tourists hang out on the hotels of the beaches in Isle Verde by the airport. It is there at the Caribe Hilton that the Pina Colada was created. Or was it this place in Old Town??
Regardless, an earlier closing time affects the nightlife culture of San Juan. People can still hang out on the streets and even drink beer and liquor, but the bars can’t serve it to them past those hours.