Ybor City business owners packed a standing-room only Tampa city council meeting Thursday.
A controversial ordinance was up for discussion. It would require businesses to buy a permit to serve alcohol after midnight.
It didn't go down well with many in the crowd.
"It's basically an attack on small business," said a gentlemen who spoke up at the meeting.
"How deep does the government have to go into my pockets for me to make a living?" asked one woman.
Council Member Yvonne Yolie Capin argued that the ordinance would allow the city to revoke licenses for businesses with crime problems, which has become a major concern after two deadly nightclub shootings in Ybor in 2011.
"Why then are we going to punish businesses that are good apples, by then making them go through a process which is then punitive to them?" one business owner asked.
"It's gonna affect everybody. Your servers, your vendors, your guy you get your cups from," another person said.
Ybor is still struggling after the recession with competition from downtown St. Petersburg. The restaurants and bars say if they were to stop serving at midnight, people would simply go across the bridge.
"And that will put a lot of people in danger, because they will go and drink somewhere else, and they have to drive to come back home," argued Acropolis Tavern owner Costa Waez.
His restaurant in Ybor already closes at midnight during the week, but he argued the ordinance would still affect the traffic at his business and others down the street, like Gaspar's Grotto.
"Not having that later night life is gonna take people to places where they can stay later, whether it be to the Hard Rock Cafe or St. Petersburg, or a different part of town," said Andy Seavey, General Manager of Gaspar's Grotto.
The city council heard the message loud and clear, and in a vote of 4 to 3, they decided against the ordinance. They plan to review it in February, and business owners say they'll be back again if they have to, to fight it.
"We're seeing steady sales growths down here, so I think we need to keep it that way," Seavey said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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