Changing our closing time
Over a decade ago, in April 2011, we extended our closing time from 12 midnight to 2am. (Read about it here)
Everyone thought we were crazy — they already thought we were crazy for staying open till midnight — but even before we started selling wine and beer in 2015, those last two hours were well above break-even. Within a few weeks of the change we were hitting $150 in sales, and with the addition of beer and wine we were regularly selling $500 or more in those early morning hours.
As I wrote at the time, “If you like our new hours, the best way to ensure they stay around is by voting with your feet!” And for 9 long years, Hyde Parkers voted with their feet.
But then came the pandemic. Covid has been a crazy time in the grocery business in so many ways, but one thing that happened is that late night sales plummeted. In the early days, there were days when we had no customers at all after midnight. No one was out and about.
We kept our hours the same, both to provide a less crowded shopping opportunity for pandemic reasons, and because we assumed things would go back to normal after a few weeks. Then, we thought, they’d be back to normal in a few months.
The city restricted liquor sales after 9pm (later extended to 11pm) in a questionable attempt to keep people from gathering in liquor store parking lots (though why this applied to small grocery stores without parking lots, I’m not sure).
In June 2021, they made this a permanent ban on retail sales of liquor after midnight with a nonsense tough-on-crime motivation.
Between changed shopping habits from the pandemic and the city’s ill-advised ban, in December 2021 we are averaging less than $70 of sales after midnight, which is just not enough to break even. We were willing to hold out for a while to weather a temporary disruption, but after almost two years and a permanent change in the law, it’s time to respond to the data.
December 23rd will be our last night closing at 2am. After our holiday hours for December 24th + 25th (closing at 10pm), we will begin closing at midnight on December 26th.
To all of the night-owl students, second-shift restaurant workers, and parents who ran in to get milk for the morning — even to the person walking home at 1am who felt safer because there was an open business on the block — sorry we won’t be open till 2am anymore.
If the city reverses their liquor curfew, or we have other reason to believe we can sustain a later closing time, we will definitely take another look.