Mixed response from Monona restaurants about underage servers proposal
MONONA, Wis. (WMTV) - Monona restaurant owners and managers have mixed opinions about an Assembly proposal to lower the age limit so 14-year-old’s can serve alcohol.
A proposal to allow children 14 and older to serve alcohol is under consideration at the Wisconsin State Assembly. Under current law, someone must be 18 years old to serve alcohol.
Two Monona restaurant managers said changing the law would not make much of a difference and is not necessary in Dane County.
Two other Monona restaurant managers said changing the law would make a difference and would help them hire serving staff.
”Any help that they can consider and legislation to get more people back to work would be very appreciated,” Breakwater Bar and Grill General Manager Ryan Ley said. ”I have definitely had to turn away servers that wanted to come in who were that 16 to 17 age range just because it’s too difficult to not have them be able to serve their own alcohol.”
Post pandemic, Ley said it is still tough to hire servers. He hopes the proposal passes so 16 and 17 year old’s could serve alcohol at his restaurant. Typically, he does not hire anyone 17 and younger because they cannot get drinks for their table, someone else has to handle the beverages.
Off Broadway Drafthouse Owner Joe Klinzing said lowering the age limit would not necessarily help his restaurant, but said it could help others struggling to find servers.
”These kids taking alcohol orders and running alcohol not necessarily knowing much about alcohol, I don’t know how much of an advantage that would be for a lot of people,” Klinzing said. “There may be smaller hometown bars that have family members, maybe it would be an advantage for them? But in our situation, no.”
He said the 7 p.m. curfew laws impact his underage servers more, especially when their parents would be okay with them working later.
Current law states that minors need to be off by 7 o’clock after Labor Day through May 31.
”It would be nice to have kids here until 9 o’clock,” Klinzing said. “We have parents that have no problem with it but we need to follow the laws. The labor laws say they need to be done by 7.”
Lawmakers in favor of the bill said it would cut out the middle man.
Republican Representative Chanz Green sponsors the bill and gave the following statement:
Opponents of the bill said there are other ways to address workforce challenges.
Democratic Representative Francesca Hong gave the following statement:
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development declined an interview request from NBC15 News.
The Republican supported bill still needs approval from the Wisconsin State Assembly, Senate and a signature from Democratic Governor Tony Evers. If passed, Wisconsin would have the lowest such limit nationwide, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
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