United States Patent 3761913

A system for automatically (or manually) informing the patrons and employees of a tavern, lounge or the like of the approach of closing and for aiding in persuading the patrons to leave before the closing hour wherein a long period (24 hour) timer is employed to activate a relay-capacitor intermediate energization unit coupled by a short period timer, first to a first electric sign (e.g. "Last Call") for a period and then to a second electric sign (e.g., "Bar Closed"), the short period timer may also at the time of energizing the second sign disconnect current from a juke box or the like and connect current to a flood or house light to encourage customer departure.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
40/463, 340/815.55
International Classes:
G08B1/08; (IPC1-7): G08B1/00
Field of Search:
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3525980FIXED TIMING TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM1970-08-25Schmidt et al.
3414877Self-adaptive timing system for a traffic controller1968-12-03Cress, Jr. et al.
3358277Modular time and temperature display with cam controlled switching apparatus1967-12-12Selig
3299401Traffic signal controller1967-01-17Bolton
2673976Display sign1954-03-30Williams et al.
2071495Sand spreader1937-02-23Brandenburger

Primary Examiner:
Yusko, Donald J.
Assistant Examiner:
Wannisky, William M.
What is claimed is

1. A closing system for informing patrons of the approach of closing time, comprising:

2. The invention of claim 1, wherein:

3. The invention of claim 2, wherein:


Licensed taverns, cocktail lounges and like establishments selling alcoholic liquor by the drink for on site consumption (all of which we will define as "taverns" herein and in the claims) in most jurisdictions have mandatory closing hours. As a practical matter, the duty of closing on time is placed by the authorities onto the management of the establishment rather then the customers. In many cases the penalty to the establishment for failing to close by the appointed hour is severe. The customers are often reluctant to leave at the appointed hour and, for many establishments, the urging of their customers to leave without alienating them is a vexing and reoccurring problem.


To meet the above set out problem the present inventor has devised a new and improved tavern closing system comprising at least a first and a second electric sign adapted to be positioned within the tavern in view of the patrons, (as for example over the bar) each with a message that is substantially indiscernable without electrical energization, but is fully visible on energization. The first of these signs having a simple message warning of the approach of closing (e.g., "Last Call") and the other has one signifying that no more drinks will be served (e.g., "That's All," "Bar Closed" or "Good Night"). Timer means are provided for, on a command signal, intermediately energizing the first sign for a predetermined period (e.g., 9 1/2 minutes) and then intermediately energizing the second sign, whereby the customers are warned for that predetermined period.

Additional features of the present invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with the advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a sign and control system constructed in accordance with the principle of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a circuit diagram of the system of FIG. 1.


Referring to FIG. 1 there is depicted a tavern closing system generally designated 10 that is constructed in accordance with the present invention. The system 10 in this illustrative embodiment is mounted in a single cabinet 11 and includes a first electric sign 12 and a second electric sign 14 both of which are of the type that are essentially indiscernable, absent energization, but are clearly readable and attract attention when energized. These may be, as shown, translucent panels having the message written in letters of a light-masking material on the back side at the panels and a lamp positioned on the interior. However, other sign units, such as those formed by a small number of electric lights on a noncontrasting background, or others, may be employed without departing from the invention. The essential requirement is to have the messages not be readily apparent to the viewer absent illumination.

Also mounted on the cabinet 11 a control panel 16 on which are mounted the controls that form part of the system 10, and a pair of receptacles 18 and 20 into which units such as a juke box or automatic music service or the like, and the establishment house or flood lights, may have their power plug inserted. The system includes timing means part of which is preferably, as illustrated, a 24 hour timer 26 having a pair of adjustable timing trip points. The timer 26 is mounted on panel 16.

The construction of the system 10 may be better understood by referring to the circuit diagram of FIG. 2 wherein lamps 12' and 14' respectively serve to light the signs 12 and 14 and a juke box 18' and flood light 20' are respectively plugged into the receptacles 18 and 20.

The system 10 has a pair of main power input lines 22, 24 which are connected to a convenience source of a.c. power such as the a.c. mains (normally, in the U.S., 110 v., 60 hz).

Connected across the a.c. lines 22-24 is a clock timer motor 26' for the timer 26. The motor 26' controls, as indicated by the dashed line 27, a pair of switches designated 26A and 26B. These switches are respectively closed at the trip point times (e.g., 1:40 a.m. and 3:40 a.m.) determined by the adjustment of the trip points on the timer 26 controls on the panel 16. The switches 26A and 26B are connected in parallel with each other from an electrical conductor 31 to a single pole double throw manual switch 34 (also mounted on the panel 16) which serves to selectively connect either switch 26A or switch 26B, but not both, to one switch terminal of a second single pole double throw switch 33. The switch 33 is also mounted on panel 16 and is connected to the power line 24 and serves to selectively connect that line to either the switch 34, to an unconnect or "off" terminal or to a conductor 35 which is connected across the switches 34, 26A and 26B to the conductor 31.

The line 31 is connected to one side of a relay coil K1 whose other side is connected to the power line 22. When energized the coil K1 serves to close, as indicated by the dashed line 40, two sets of normally open (n.o.) switch contacts K11 and K12. The switch contacts K11 serve to connect power line 22 to an intermediate energizing or flashing circuit, generally 41, which included a diode D1 connected in series with a set of normally closed (n.c.) relay switch contacts K21, a resistor R1, the parallel connection of a relay coil K2 and timing capacitor C1 and the power line 24. The coil K2 when energized serves, as indicated by the dashed line 42, to open the contacts K21 and also to close a pair of normally open contacts K22. The flashing circuit 41, when the n.o. contacts K11 are closed, functions as follows: The diode D1 serves to rectify the a.c. power and this pulsating d.c. current intially does not energize the coil K2 but charges the capacitor C1, however, as the charge builds up on the capacitor C1, the current flowing through K2 builds up to the energization trip point. When this occurs the contacts K21 are opened cutting off the flow of pulsating d.c. However, this does not de-energize the coil K2 as the capacitor C1 continues to discharge through the coil. After a short period, however, this current drops below the necessary level to de-energize coil K2 causing the contacts K21 to close again to repeat the process. The values of the resistor R1 and the capacitor C1 determine the period of intermittent energization which may be, for example of the order 0.5 to 1 second.

The intermediate energization of coil K2 serves to also intermediately close n.o. contacts K22 which connect and disconnect the power line 22 to an electric line 43 which is connected to one side of each of the lamps 12' and 14'. The other sides of these lamps are respectively connected, via lines 52, 54 to the normally closed and normally open contact terminals of a short term timer 50 switch unit 51. The common terminal of the unit 51 is connected via line 55 to the power line 24.

Thus the intermittent closing of switch contacts K22 serves to connect power from the lines 22, 24 to whichever lamp 12' or 14' is connected by the switch unit 51 to the line 55.

The timer 50 includes a motor 50' which is connected between the power lines 22, 24 by the closure of contacts K12. In addition to the motor 50' and switch unit 51, the timer 50 preferably includes a second switch unit 51' operated in the same manner as the first unit 51, but connected to have its common connection to one power line, its n.o. terminal connected to one side of the flood light receptacle 20 (whose other side is connected to the other power line) and its n.c. terminal connected to one side of the juke box receptacle 18 (whose other side is connected through a single pole, single throw manual control switch 35 to the other power line). The common and n.o. terminals of the unit 51' are bypassed by a single pole, single throw, control switch 36.

In addition to the lamps 12', 14' other warning or attention attracting devices may be optionally employed. For example a buzzer 60 or bell 62 may be, as depicted in FIG. 2, connected in parallel with respectively the lamps 12', 14' to be intermittently energized with their respective lamp.


Having described the parts and their interconnection, the operation of the system 10 will now be taken up with reference to both FIGS. 1 and 2.

The 24 hour timer 26 has trip times selected as, for example, 20 minutes before closing on weekdays and 20 minutes before closing on Saturday. In a specific example, in the Chicago, Ill. area legal closing times have been for certain licenses 2 a.m. for week nights and 3 a.m. for Saturday night (3 a.m. Sunday morning). The timer 26 serves to close switch 26A at 1:40 a.m. and switch 26B at 2:40 a.m.

With the switch 33 thrown to connect line 24 to switch 34, whichever one of the switches 26A or 26B (1:40 or 2:40) that is selected by the switch 34 will, when closed by the timer motor 26', energize the coil K1. Energization of the coil K1 closes switch contacts and energizes the intermittent flashing circuit 41 and also by closing the contacts K12 starts the short timer motor 50'.

The flashing circuit 41 initially intermittently lights (via contacts K22) the lamp 12' of sign 12 ("Last Call"). (The circuit between the power lines 22 and 24 is traced through contacts K22, the lamp 12', the n.c. terminal of unit 50, its common terminal and the line 55.) After a short period (e.g. 10 minutes) determined by the timer 50 the n.c. contacts of unit 51 are opened and its n.o. contacts are closed. This results in the sign 12 ("Last Call") no longer being flashed and the sign 14 ("That's All Folks") being thereafter flashed.

The switch unit 51' serves to supply power to the receptacle 18 and juke box 18' if the manual control switch 35 of panel 16 is also closed. (The power circuit being traced from line 22, the common terminal of unit 51', its n.c. terminal the receptacle 18, the juke box 18', the switch 35 and the line 55.) When the timer motor 50', after the preselected period (10 minutes), causes the switch unit 51' to open the circuit between its n.c. and common terminals. This opens the power circuit to the juke box (shutting it down if it were playing). The circuit between the n.o. and common terminals of the unit 51' is also completed at this time. This causes the house light 18' to be lighted.

The automatic reopening of the switch 26A or 26B (after e.g. 30 minutes) restores the entire system to its starting condition, until the next day. Without manual supervision, the closing system 10 will continue to work, day after day, at the same hour to aid in closing down the tavern. This feature helps the management from inadvertently staying open later than the legal closing hour.

The manual control switch 33, allows the sign flashing sequence of signs 12 and 14 to be instituted at any time. For example, if the management wishes to close up earlier than usual on a given night. It also serves to cut off the system for one or more days (e.g., election day, vacation shutdowns).

The manual control switch 36 allows the house or flood lights 20 to be lighted at any time, independently of the timer of the system. Similarly the manual switch 35 serves to independently cut off power to the juke box 18' whenever desired.

As should now be apparent, there has been described a tavern closing system that has many advantages and is adaptable to differing environments and applications. It can easily adjust to early closings and different closing hours, allows manual override and, as depicted, unifies the controls of flood lights and automatic musical performance apparatus in one location for ease of use.

Although described in one specific embodiment the system of the present invention is capable of being incorporated into other forms. For example, the controls and timer means may be housed separately from the signs. Additional sign units may be employed driven off the same circuitry. More or less long period timer trip time points may be provided for jurisdictions or establishments having more or less closing hours.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects and, therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.