[image-1]Charleston’s regulations regarding nightlife have always been a little difficult to pin down. Fortunately, a recent update to the city’s pilot program for soft closings offers a bit more clarification as to the whens, wheres, and hows late-night hot spots are supposed to throttle down after a busy night.

Following a final vote by Charleston City Council last month, restaurants and bars opting into the city’s updated soft-closing program will be allowed to remain open until 3 a.m. provided they play by the rules. According to a statement from the Charleston Police Department, those hoping to serve food and non-alcoholic beverages after 2 a.m. must meet these requirements:

All lights must be turned up to 50 percent of their highest levels or 50 percent of the establishment’s house lights must be at their brightest. Hopefully this added illumination won’t scare away that special someone you’ve been trying to charm all night.

Second, as the lights go up, the music needs to go down. All stereo systems must be turned down, so that no music can be heard 25 feet beyond the perimeter of the property. While 2 a.m. is always a great time to demonstrate to everyone that you know all the lyrics to every Drake song, you should probably hold off on performing “Jumpman” until you get home.

Third, venues must have an operational kitchen with a nighttime menu that consists of more than just prepackaged or individually wrapped foods. Throwing a few handfuls of trail mix at bar patrons isn’t going to cut it. Food served from the late-night menu must contain items prepared, cooked, and plated similarly to items served during the day.
Lastly, all alcoholic beverages must be removed from tables and bar areas, and consumption, possession, and sale of alcohol is prohibited after 2 a.m.

Any restaurants or bars hoping to take part in the soft-closing program — which now runs until Jan. 31, 2017 — must notify the Police Department at least seven days before they plan on staying open after 2 a.m.