HOBART, Wis. (WFRV) – As state lawmakers propose a new bill that would allow people between the ages of 14-17 to serve alcohol to seated restaurant customers, people in northeast Wisconsin have mixed emotions about it.
When we made a Facebook post linking an article written about the bill by the Associated Press, people made their voices heard. Many called the proposal “ridiculous,” “insane,” and “a terrible idea.”
Many people cited their biggest concern, which was that a minor serving adults drinks might expose them to inappropriate behavior. However, Marcus Krause, co-owner of the Long Drive Supper Club in Hobart, says he does not think it will be an issue.
“When you have responsible owners who are there and regularly watching their employees, we shouldn’t have to worry about a teenager bringing them [drinks] or not because we should be able to trust that our managers can do what they need to do,” Krause says.
Representative Chanz Lee, one of the authors of the bill, released a statement, in part saying, “Drinks are still being made by a licensed bartender. It would just cut out the middleman, and there is still the responsibility of the bartender and the employer to supervise their employees. This helps rural Wisconsin because it would essentially open up an employee pool that is already small, to begin with.”
Currently, six people under the age of 18 work at Long Drive, and Krause hopes the bill is passed so he can turn those bussers and hosts into wait staff.
He says, “There’s a lot of times where we short-staffed, and to have that option to have those people step in would be really wonderful.”
President & CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Kristine Hillmer also issued a statement saying, “It is also important that should this bill be passed, operators provide appropriate training to their staff and maintain a high level of oversight of all underage employees should they wish for them to be able to bring beverage alcohol to their customers’ tables.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, West Virginia and Maine are the only states where minors serve alcohol.