Some Bars Are Refusing To Serve Those Under 25, But Can They Do That?

By Aly Walansky |
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RichLegg

Phil’s Crummy Corner (actual name!) in Brooklyn has elected to raise their weekend drinking age to 25 in order to weed out so-called “really annoying young people.”

We’ve been there. On both sides of the “really annoying” age divide.

The restaurant manager at Phil’s Crummy Corner, Isabel Santiago told the Press Union it was really about the quality of life of their neighbors, who had been complaining about the “rowdy crowds” and late-night noise that would wake up the quiet neighborhood at all hours of the night.

The bar is known for parties on weekend nights that can go until nearly dawn and neighbors were so up in arms about the ruckus they brought their complaints to a local Community Board meeting. “You will be shocked about the number of conversations you can hear from my bed!” one local was quoted as saying at the Brooklyn Community Board 6 meeting. “They’re animals. Friday and Saturday night, it’s like animal town.”

But there seems to be no indication it’s specifically young people who are engaging in “animal town,” and the bar is reportedly making some exceptions for young people they know they can trust. So is this drinking age upping arbitrary and is it even legal?

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The US drinking age is 21 (at least for any state that wants to keep its highway funding), so does this restaurant have the right to change that? NYS law actually stops “any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement” from denying anyone entry “because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status of any person.” The important thing to note here is that age does not fall under the protected classes, which means any 23 year olds wanting to make a claim against these bars would have an uphill and likely impossible battle.

But if bars like Phil’s can do this, is it even a good idea? They wouldn’t be alone. Washington, DC based Dew Drop Inn will only serve you booze if you are over 24, and The Auction House on New York’s Upper East Side has a legendary over 25 policy. Kasey’s Kitchen in Long Island requests men be at least 30 to drink, but women only over 25.

Bar owners understand why this trend may be occurring. "I personally haven't raised the age at my bars, Odd Birds and Damiana (both located in St. Augustine, Florida), but understand why some bars would In order to keep young, less experienced drinkers out,” says Cesar Diaz, Owner/Bartender at Odd Birds & Damiana in Florida. “Being that my bars are located in an area with universities, I sometimes get a lot of rowdy college students that drink to get drunk and start trouble,” says Diaz.

But raising the drinking age isn’t the only way to control this behavior. “To weed them out I've implemented my own measures. I've raised the prices, renovated the bars for a more sophisticated look, and have eliminated selling drinks that appeal to [the drinking to get drunk] demographic. At Damiana, I've also hired a doorman to enforce a dress code and keep unruly customers out,” says Diaz.

And we’re sure that well-behaved early 20-somethings thank him for that.

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