Send in the clowns, and 4 a.m. bar closings

When I lived in Brooklyn I saw a lot of sunrises. The bars would let out at 4 am and then we’d get some pizza before heading down to catch the train. Often times Helios was already dragging the great orb across the sky by the time I’d come out the other end of the subway and just before collapsing into bed, I’d wonder if that was the only sunlight I was going to see that weekend.

Moving back to San Francisco, I was simultaneously bummed that the bars here closed at 2 am, and also kind of relieved that I would have more robust weekends. Those two hours made a huge difference. It’s far easier to have a decent afternoon when you get in bed at 3:30 than it is when you do so at 5:30. I was in my 20s so the idea of not staying out until last call seemed silly.

Last week the news broke that bars and restaurants in nine California cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, may soon be allowed to sell booze until 4 am. Senator Scott Weiner’s Senate Bill 905 passed the Senate and will now head to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk where he’ll have until September 30 to sign it. If signed by Gov. Brown the law would make it so cities could decide if they if they want to allow alcohol sales till 4am and it will give them the flexibility to limit which neighborhoods, days, and times of year that these extended hours can exist. The bill would take effect in January 2021 and would be a five-year pilot program after which officials would reevaluate things and decide whether or not to renew the legislation.

Personally I’m looking forward to the first few weeks of being able to stay out till 4 am.

The amount of shenanigans people will get into will be glorious. When weed was first legalized people were like “I’m gonna smoke ALL the pot right now!” and then after a month or so things settled down once the novelty wore off.

I imagine the same thing happening with 4 am booze. For a little while there will be a rush of Monday morning stories like “So I had a threesome with some clowns on Saturday” before the extra late night booziness becomes less exotic.

There will be some other great changes that reflect the new closing time as well. On top of restaurants serving dinner much later, many will also probably start serving a longer brunch.

This could be a huge boon for the service industry in general. The word from those who have been in nightlife in San Francisco for a long time is that things have really slowed down. People don’t go out on weeknights like they used to. And, since so many young people in SF are in tech jobs, they are working late instead of hitting up local bars. On top of that many tech companies have a bar, or at least beer available, leading employees to drink there instead. A later last call will allow bars to make up some of the money on weekends that they’re no longer making during the week.

But if people are going to be drinking later we have to make sure they’re not driving.

The cities that allow the extended hours should beef up their late night transit schedules and BART should figure out a way to run at least one train an hour after midnight on the weekends.

Even though I won’t take advantage of the extended hours too often, I’m excited that I’ll have the option to stay out until 4 am. What’s the saying? “Nothing good ever happens after 2 am?” That’s exactly what I’m looking forward to…and clown orgies of course.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at and join his awesome mailing list to stay up on the work he’s doing: Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner

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