Underage Drinking Ordinance Passes
Nothing like watching the Gainesville city commission meeting... at a bar.
And though this isn't what's typically on TV at the Copper Monkey, bartenders say they had to know how the commissioners voted.
"Under 21-year-old kids coming to the bar, if they want to come in and watch a sporting game and have a burger, they should be allowed," John Wallace, a bartender, said.
Even though the Copper Monkey is a restaurant bar, the ordinance says any venue that sells alcohol that gets too many underage drinking citations wouldn't be able to allow anyone under 21 in after 9 p.m.
And employees say that could hurt business.
Katie Small is 18 and drinking a lemonade at the Copper Monkey. She says it's unfair that underage people come in to illegally drink alcohol... and because of them, the bar could be forced to ban anyone under 21.
"I'm really against this ordinance because I like to eat late sometimes," Small said.
The owner of the Copper Monkey, Rob Zeller, came to the commission meeting.
He says his employees do everything they can to prevent underage drinking... but it's tough to do because there are many fake IDs out there.
And because of these rule-breakers, his business could be in jeopardy.
"I got a stack here of 68 IDs that were collected in a three-month period, which is more than GPD collected at any given business in a three-month period," Zeller said.
According to GPD, in the three-month period from last October through December, 65 people were arrested for underage drinking.
Commissioners say more needs to be done-- and they're hoping this ordinance will scare bar owners into monitoring underage customers.
"I think that's an economic incentive put back on the responsibility of the bars," Jeanna Mastrodicasa, city commissioner, said.
Smaller places like the Copper Monkey would have to ban underage patrons if they are caught serving to minors five times in a quarter. For larger nightspots, its ten strikes and they're out.
The ordinance does not apply to liquor stores or convenience stores.
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