So the word on the streets (and in the papers) is that Barcelona's City Hall will prohibit any sort of promotional offers by bars (2x1, happy hours, free shot, etc.) since this allegedly encourages underage drinking and alcoholism. Last night, I passed by Raval bar Zelig, which offers happy hour beers for €1.50, and was surprised to find it was not, in fact, inundated with underage drinkers and alcoholics, but rather its typical mix of locals and foreigners.
And in this morning's papers I read that Mayor Hereu has ordered that the small grocers and carryout food places in Ciutat Vella (Raval, Barri Gotic, Born) must close from 12-7am. Apparently these places are magnets for crime and disorderly street noise.
What is going on here? Killing happy hours to curtail underage drinking? Maybe they should try enforcing ID checks by venues that sell alcohol. When was the last time you saw someone carded in Barcelona? As far as street crime and noise are concerned, is the solution shutting down all street commerce? Why don't we just impose curfews?
And what about the impact on local businesses? Don't bars have a right to market their services with promotions, particularly now at the deepest point in the recession? I know a lot of bars and restaurants whose business will drop without the promotions, and when revenue drops businesses tend to let employees go. As for the neighborhood grocers (typically owned by Pakistanis) trying to eke out a living ... I mean these guys are heroes ... where else are you going to buy a tomato at 1am? How about more street patrols by police? Couldn't the taxes on sales from 12am-7am pay for that?
I don't know what message City Hall wants to send to young people. (Let's face it, it's a generational conflict; abuelos are not kicking back mojitos for €3.50 or shopping for that 1am tomato, they want peace and quiet.) But I know what message City Hall IS sending: RUN, don't walk, to a much cooler city like Berlin, where you can still enjoy a bit of that "La Movida" freedom that used to characterize Barcelona and for which so many of us moved here.