Montgomery County needs a concierge service that will help business development and promote positive customer service. That was one of the final recommendations presented Monday by the Nighttime Economy Task Force to the County Council for a more attractive nightlife.
The task force also called for later bar-closing times, looser liquor restrictions and changes to noise ordinances.
Appointed by County Executive Isiah Leggett, the task force worked for more than six months to develop ideas to create a more appealing urban area.
“What we are trying to do is provide a more vibrant dining entertainment night life in the community, so that when people want to gather with their friends and family they will have a wide array of choices,” Councilman Hans Riemer said.
Much of the discussion was around food-to-alcohol ratio, but also covered public safety, food trucks to operate in designated areas, parking options and guidelines to potential activities in public parks. Thirty-two recommendations aim to make Silver Spring, Bethesda, Wheaton, Rockville and Germantown more competitive outing options.
To enact the proposals, county and state laws and regulations need to change, said Riemer (D-At large) of Takoma Park.
The task force recommended that a restaurant’s alcohol sales, now limited by law at 50 percent of profits, be increased to 60 percent while also creating a “social venue license” that will cost more money to obtain but would not include a ratio limitation.
“We are not keeping up with our urban centers. ... We are losing a lot of smart people, young workers, the new urban community,” Riemer said.
Officials believe millenials — ages 20 to 34 — need to be attracted to Montgomery County. But Riemer said the proposals are not just for “young people.”
“Everybody likes to go out,” he said adding the point is to offer options to county residents and people of all ages.
“This is whether you can go out to the jazz club or to a theater,” Riemer said.
The task force’s co-chair, Henriot St. Gerard, told the Silver Spring Advisory Board meeting on Oct. 14 that a nightime economy also contributes to the county’s economy health.
“We are trying to have people in Montgomery County stay here. ... Young people live, work, party within walking distance,” St. Gerard said.
Other officials said these recommendations affirm “what works” to maximize the benefits of an economic activity beyond the work-day.
Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center, believes it opens the dialogue for practical and pragmatic approaches that will benefit the night life economy in the region.
St. Gerard said there are no specific amounts of how much the county will spend or gain in revenue. These numbers will come after further analyses, he said. The group will also continue to explain these proposals to various groups in the county.
On Monday, the county executive will receive the official document, but St. Gerard was unsure if Leggett will make any changes to the proposed recommendations.