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Louisiana bars want to remain open past 11 p.m.

“We still want to take responsibility for the mask mandates, the social distancing requirements, all the rules would still apply to us.

NEW ORLEANS — After months of alcohol sales ending at 11 p.m., a group of local New Orleans bar and restaurant owners are making a case for a new closing time.

And after weeks of discussion, they’re now taking to social media.

Robert LeBlanc, with LeBlanc and Smith Restaurant Group, was one of the first to post to Instagram Friday, asking the governor to lift the 11 p.m. restriction.

The post reads in part, “Governor Edwards, please end the alcohol closing time so we may put Louisiana back to work and return to fully serving our communities.” #EndClosingTime

“We still want to take responsibility for the mask mandates, the social distancing requirements, all the rules would still apply to us. But it would be very, very advantageous if we could stay open later than 11 o’clock,” said LeBlanc.

Within just a few hours, businesses like R Bar, Saint, and HiVolt Coffee posted their support. Cooter Brown’s, the Rusty Nail, Sidecar, D.B.A., and others posted, too.

Steve Watson, co-owner of Kingpin, would also like to see the governor extend the alcohol sale curfew, even by a few hours.

“Have a little faith in us, you know?” said Watson.

He’s part of the newly-formed New Orleans Neighborhood Hospitality League, which focuses on issues that local bars and restaurants are facing one year into the pandemic.

He emphasizes that their ask to the governor isn’t about reckless behavior or changing safety protocols, but the industry relies on sales after 11 p.m.

“We want to continue to respect our neighborhoods, respect our communities, and we’d like to stay open longer. Get closer to where we were before,” he said.

Music venues have echoed the sentiment. Tipitina’s shut down its reopening show at 11 p.m.

Bartenders across the state have called for an extension, too.

The risks of not doing business are too great, some say.

LeBlanc’s restaurant group closed two places last year, including Meauxbar.

He says a few more hours of sales will pad pockets before slow summer months.

“That extra hour or two really makes  all the difference in the world when you add it up over four or five weekends a month. I mean, that’s the difference between surviving and not surviving,” he said.

The Governor’s office has not directly responded to these calls to extend bar hours.

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