Montgomery County’s nightlife options range from OK to not very good, according to a majority of people who responded to a survey County Council member Hans Riemer compiled this summer.
The poll is unscientific, the respondents are self-selected and there was no attempt to account for demographic representation, Riemer said. Still, with 1,831 respondents, the survey did provide some insight into the issue of the county’s nightlife.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for making changes to promote nightlife in Montgomery County,” Riemer said. “We found out, generally speaking, people spend a lot of time going out and they want better options.”
Riemer is an ex-officio member of the Nighttime Economy Task Force, created earlier this year by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) in an effort to encourage increased nighttime business and entertainment.
The 19-member group, which meets the third Monday of every month, is chaired by Heather Dlhopolsky, a lawyer and a board member of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce. To see a full list of the task force members, visit the website www.montgomerycountymd.gov/nighttimeeconomy/who.html.
The task force has had four of its six monthly meetings so far and is expected to complete its recommendations by the end of the year.
According to the Nighttime Economy Task Force website, the county hopes to establish a lively environment that appeals to all sorts of people — from baby boomers to families to single professionals.
Just how to do that has yet to be decided.
“One thing that struck me the most was the results seem very supportive of improving the nighttime economy. I was actually very heartened by that,” Dlhopolsky said. Riemer had presented the results of the survey to the task force at the August meeting.
Dlhopolsky said the results confirmed the bad news that she and other task force members had suspected.
“Our young people are going out at night to D.C. and not staying here,” she said.
The task force is in the process of putting together draft recommendations, such as tweaking liquor licensing laws that regulate who gets to serve alcohol in the county, Dlhopolsky said.
The way it stands now, every venue, with few exceptions, must make 50 percent of its money from food, Riemer said. That’s an obstacle to opening other types of places besides restaurants — such as music clubs that serve alcohol or craft brew pubs that don’t want to sell food.
“It’s debilitating for some entrepreneurs,” Riemer said.
To see the results of the survey, visit http://www.councilmemberriemer.org/2013/08/moco-night-life-survey-results.html.