DeKALB – As the city council looks to explore allowing minors under the age of 21 into bars, liquor license owners in the city say they are opposed to it.
The city council has already expressed their support of the proposed changes to the DeKalb Municipal Code's Chapter 38 regarding intoxicating liquors, though more council direction on the matter is expected at Monday's council meeting, 6 p.m. at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth Street.
According to city documents, a Feb. 6 forum was held and all current liquor license holders in the city were invited to better gauge thoughts as the council moves towards taking action. The proposed changes, if approved, would allow 19 and 20-year olds into licensed bars, expanding Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) options to places which service liquor with a meal, and allowing places such as tobacco lounges, fitness centers and nail salons to offer liquor services.
None of the liquor license store owners and managers in attendance at the forum supported the possible changes, documents show.
According to City Manager Bill Nicklas' report from the meeting, the manager of Molly's Eatery and Drinkery, 1000 W. Lincoln Highway, which services younger, college-aged clientele, was strongly opposed to allowing underage people in the bar.
The Molly's manager said that she's worried that she'd have to hire more wait staff to be more vigilant to deter underage drinkers, documents show. She also said it might deter customers who come in big groups and have people of multiple ages because the underage people would have to separate from the 21-and-older crowd when drinking, and the whole group would likely leave.
Those in attendance also unanimously opposed making the underage proposal a requirement and suggested instead they may be willing to support it if there were an "opt-out" option.
Regarding the BYOB component, those in attendance at the forum said they would like the option of having a banquet area for underage people, as long as people coming into and out of the bar area were carded appropriately.
Attendees also wondered whether the DeKalb Police Department has enough officers for adequate enforcement of fitness centers, tobacco lounges, and other non-traditional establishments if they're allowed to serve alcohol.
The proposed changes were initially requested by several members of the city council and local business owners, such as Cameron Dye of Aroma's Hookah Bar, 811 W. Lincoln Highway. Dye's establishment was recently approved to allow BYOB for those wishing to smoke marijuana, and he said changes to the city's liquor code will also help improve business.