These Milwaukee area communities are not allowing later bar times during the RNC


A new law allows bars in 14 Wisconsin counties to remain open until 4 a.m. during the Republican National Convention.

At least four Milwaukee area municipalities have opted out of the law, but many will be allowing the later bar times.

Here’s more about the law and which communities are in and which are out. Note that it’s not an exhaustive list.

When was the new law enacted and what does it say?

On Dec. 6, 2023, Gov. Tony Evers signed an act to allow bars in certain municipalities to be open until 4 a.m. during the Republican National Convention. Normally, bars must be closed from 2 to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 2:30 to 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

When and where is the 2024 Republican National Convention?

The convention is being held in Milwaukee from July 15 to 18. The main venue for the RNC will be at Fiserv Forum, where the Milwaukee Bucks play. Thousands of delegates are expected to gather there to hear big speeches.

Which Milwaukee area communities decided to opt out?

If a municipality did not want its bars to be open until 4 a.m., the common council, village or town board needed to vote on an ordinance to opt out of this new law. Among the communities that have decided to opt out are the Village of Germantown, the City of Oconomowoc, the Town of Oconomowoc and the Village of Shorewood.

Which communities will allow bars to be open until 4 a.m. during the RNC?

By not enacting an ordinance to opt out, these suburban municipalities are among those who will allow bars to be open until 4 a.m. during the RNC: The villages of Sussex, Grafton, Delafield and Hartland, and the cities of Waukesha, Brookfield, Port Washington, West Allis, West Bend, New Berlin, Franklin, Mequon, Oak Creek, Delafield and Wauwatosa.

I am all for it because it is good for small business owners and sales,” Wauwatosa Alderman Sean Lowe said. “It shows we support the convention and people’s first time to Milwaukee. It shows we are a welcoming city.”

The Village of Menomonee Falls discussed opting out, but Village Administrator Mark Fitzgerald told the Journal Sentinel that the village did not end up passing the ordinance.

What are the 14 counties that have the option to extend their bar time during the convention?

The 14 Wisconsin counties that have the option to extend their bar time are: Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Rock, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Columbia, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac.

Wisconsin Restaurant Association urged municipalities to follow the new law

According to the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, many people participating in the RNC may not be able to leave Milwaukee until after 11 p.m. The WRA urged all municipalities to not pass an ordinance to opt out, saying, “These guests look to have a nice meal, enjoy a classic Wisconsin cocktail and wind down from their day.” They also said that most participants will be transported to bars by bus or group travel. Therefore, the transportation is safer.

In the open letter to municipalities, the WRA also said people participating in the RNC may have private parties in their hotels and purchase food and drinks to carry into the facility. “This would harm the hotel and nearby restaurants and bars from capitalizing on this economic opportunity that is literally in their facility or near it.”

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association also said in the letter that once visitors see the “fantastic quality of life” in the area, “business convention travel can increase.”

Some bars won’t stay open later because of staffing concerns

Shorewood is one of the municipalities that opted out of the law after concerns were expressed about staffing the extra hours.

Executive Director of the Shorewood Business Improvement District Janet Henning wrote an email to Shorewood village officials indicating that most of the bars and restaurants would not take advantage of the extension “due to staffing and/or other reasons.”

She said that a few of them would extend their hours, but “close if business was not consistent between the midnight and 4 a.m. hours.”

Cathy Kozlowicz can be reached at 262-361-9132 or cathy.kozlowicz@jrn.com. Follow her on X at @kozlowicz_cathy.

More: ‘Red, White and Brew’ welcome party to greet RNC delegates at Summerfest grounds

More: Republican National Convention organizers are in the final, 100-day sprint to the Milwaukee event

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Find out which communities will allow later bar times during the RNC



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