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Bar owners say extended hours are good for South Cape

By Staff | Mar 25, 2016

It may cost more money for security, electricity, and related costs but for the Dixie Roadhouse, going to 4 a.m. closing times on Friday and Saturday night has been well worth it.

The Dixie Roadhouse, a country music-themed nightclub that features dancing and live acts, has seen its clientele double since City Council last year decided to extend bar hours to 4 a.m. for a one-year trial period.

On Monday, council will decide whether to extend the trial period, make extended bar hours permanent or eliminate them entirely.

Lynn Pippinger, owner of the Dixie Roadhouse, hopes the latter is not the case, as longer hours have been a boon for her business.

“People look at us as an option to come early and to stay later. We have people who come at 11 p.m. and they like that they have more time to relax,” Pippinger said.

Staying open for two extra hours is not cheap. Dixie Roadhouse and Backstreets, the two locations that opted to try the extended hours pilot program, are required to have a police officer present, at a cost of $23,000 per year.

Because of the size of Dixie Roadhouse, Pippinger said she has hired two officers, as well as eight to 10 in-house security personnel.

When asked if it was worth it, Pippinger didn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely. This has worked out really well for the South Cape. We want new restaurants and other business organizations to come to the hospitality zone down here,” Pippinger said.

Customers come to Dixie Roadhouse in three waves, all with different characteristics, Pippinger said.

At around 7 p.m., the dancing crowd comes for the dance lessons. They typically aren’t drinkers, but pay the cover charge to do some two-stepping.

At around 11 p.m., the next wave arrives. This is the biggest wave and consists of younger people. The dancers give way as the music changes from a country flavor to Top 40 dance as the floor becomes too crowded with people to do much couples dancing anyway.

The late-night wave comes after midnight, and consists of mostly the hospitality people who work as servers and bartenders at places that close earlier.

The country flavor doesn’t end entirely, as dance lessons are also taught at 10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

Pippinger said while it’s unlikely for people to stay for nine hours, the demographics do surprise her.

“It surprises us the age of our customers who dance early and late. We have entire families come. The older ones usually leave early, but we have a wide range of ages who are here even at 3 a.m.,” Pippinger said. “At the end of the night many people can’t believe they were there all night it went so fast.”

Last month, City Councilmember John Carioscia said he would like to see extended bar hours go permanent to give businesses that are interested in investing in Cape Coral certainty one way or the other.

Pippinger agreed with that sentiment.

“I see the economic benefit in making the law consistent. I’d like to see them make it permanent, but if they want more data, that’s great, too,” Pippinger said.