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Norfolk at Night

With violent crime on the rise in downtown Norfolk, VA, city leaders have approved new restrictions to the citywide restaurant and nightclub rules.

They have also revoked the permit for a downtown nightclub where four people were shot on Aug. 5, 2022.

The new restrictions will force anyone who wants to open a restaurant or nightclub in Norfolk to obtain a council-approved conditional use permit in order to serve alcohol, without exception.

Initially proposed as part of the new rules, changes to the city’s definition of DJs and entertainment were scrapped. There was confusion about the impact on local performers and nightlife.

The city council also tossed out a requirement in the initial proposal that would have forced restaurants with permits allowing a late-night closure to reapply for it every two years.

Virginia Beach native, music superstar and businessperson Pharrell Williams would like to have a word on this, however.

A majority of the businesses that lost their right to sell alcohol and provide entertainment until 2 a.m. are Black-owned businesses. They also serve a predominantly Black clientele.

And there it is.

“‘I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s fair,’ Williams said. ‘If they really cared about helping, they would go and talk to these people and help them and educate them and say, ‘Hey this is not going to fly’ … but you shut it down and you showboat.”


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