Cape council gives thumbs down to extended bar hours near our Southwest Florida bartending school

The city council voted — 5 to 3 — to end the temporary program on Monday.

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The program had allowed bars in the downtown Cape Coral area to apply for a permit that allows them to stay open until 4 a.m.

Cape police said in previous meetings that the later closing time had yielded higher crime rates and increased calls for fire and EMS services.

Police said they made 54 more intoxication arrests in 2015 than 2014 along with 29 more disturbance arrests and 12 more disorderly conduct arrests.

Dixie Roadhouse manager Lynn Disomma says she felt like the presentation from Cape Coral Police Chief Bart Connelly would be the deciding factor for an extension.

Chief Connelly presented numbers showing an increase in calls to the South Cape district, but Mayor Marni Sawicki said it was only about one extra call per night.

He chalked it up to a positive relationship with bar owners and management.

“Our working relationship with the bar owners have allowed us to keep those numbers where they are,” he said.

He never asked the council to vote against the ordinance, but he did ask them to allow the hire of four new officers and a sergeant to patrol the bar district, which won’t be necessary now.

The decision shocked some of an expectant crowd hoping for an outcome that was pro-business. Businesses, meantime, had experienced spikes, too.

“I was very surprised. I actually thought it was gonna go very well,” the Dixie Roadhouse manager said.

Backstreets and Dixie Roadhouse reported sales up by 23 percent since the program started. Even businesses around downtown that weren’t open until 4 reported revenues up 104 percent.

“I think we’re gonna be moving backwards by this proposal not going through. I would have much rather seen Cape Coral move forward. And again, this is a huge disappointment,” said DiSomma.

The ordinance expires Sunday, which means your last chance to experience the later hours is this coming Friday and Saturday nights.