Lots of bars try to garner attention with some sort of gimmick – be it a proclivity towards sports and Buffalo wings or an open love of Will Ferrell. But a bar in Rockville Center, New York, about an hour outside of Manhattan on Long Island, was recently written up by the New York Times because its door policy is as intriguing as it is questionably legal: To gain entrance, men have to prove they are 30 years old; women, on the other hand, only have to be 25 – still obviously over the legal drinking age, but even more obviously a solid five years younger than the guys.
Kasey’s Kitchen and Cocktails opened in 1999 with your typical 21-and-over drinking policy. When the restaurant added a rooftop in 2010, the city of Rockville Centre decided they wanted to ensure a more mature crowd in the outdoor space, so local officials and the bar owners agreed that no one over the age of 25 would be permitted there. At some point though, Kasey’s realized that, for men at least, they wanted an even older clientele, and raised the age to 30. The idea, co-owner Anthony Geraci claimed, is not that these divisions were based on sexist ideas, but that “women mature earlier.”
“If you build a house, you decorate it the way you want,” Geraci told the NYT, explaining the unique policy. Meanwhile, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union had a different take. “They can do whatever they want, as long as it’s legal, and this isn’t legal,” she told the Times, emphasizing that having an older age limit is fine as long as it applies to everyone. “What we have here is a classic case of gender discrimination that is built on and perpetuates stereotypes from a bygone era,” she was quoted as saying earlier in the article.
Of course, all the NYT had to do was interview people on Long Island to realize that, um, yeah, they seem totally cool with stereotypes from a bygone era. “I like the older atmosphere,” 28-year-old Allison Kanner told the Times before jokingly adding, “I also really like older men.” In her defense, she was at the rooftop bar when she was being interviewed. No one should be quoted for the New York Times while drinking at a rooftop bar.
Other locals were fine with the idea too. In fact, another bar down the street, Cabo, also has different ages for entry: 23 for women; 25 for men. “Women usually go for men maybe a year or two older than them anyway,” Angelo Ramunni, the owner of the Mexican bar and restaurant, told the Times. In light of these responses, Mirian Perez of Freeport, Long Island, probably summed things up best. “Long Island, it’s pretty much, they have their own rules, it’s like their own world,” she said. “And no one challenges anything, so, it won’t change.” I mean, Billy Joel is from here…! I kind of assume that’s how every argument about Long Island either starts or end.
Though multiple experts agreed that these varying age door policies were probably illegal, the Times didn’t specify whether or not the bars in town would be challenged to change them. “Imagine if the same person said, ‘I let white people come in at 25, but black people not until 30,’” Joanna L. Grossman of Sothern Methodist Univesity’s Dedman School of Law pointed out. Actually, let’s not imagine that. It might just give some bar owner a terrible idea.