How often do you think bars serve alcohol to people under age 21?
That's a difficult question to answer, but we can shed some light on how often bars in Akron have been cited by the state for selling alcohol to minors. The Dorm, a bar in the Merriman Valley, is being criticized by some as the state investigates whether employees there served alcohol to a Revere High School student.
Macy Mruk, 18, was allegedly at that bar a month ago and drinking before crashing her car, a wreck that caused her serious injuries.
AkronNewsNow decided to pour through online databases provided by the state to determine how many violations that had to do with people under age 21 drinking in establishments that sell alcohol. Our concentration was limited to bars in the area near the Dorm and the downtown Akron/University of Akron area. Both spots attract younger crowds.
It turns out that the Dorm just got slapped with a citation for serving to an underage person in September, but there have been no other violations. In fact, there are very few at all. Of the ten bars researched, four others also got in some trouble for the same thing.
- Brubaker's (12/10 & 11/91)
- Weathervane (5/06)
- The Big Fish (5/07)
- Noisy Oyster (8/91)
You may have noticed that most of the problems took place several years ago. That was the case as well with the other set of bars. Thursday's had the most with eight violations of selling to minors. It sounds like a lot, until you realize that it's considered a "college" bar and six of the seven citations are more than 20 years old. The other one happened more than a decade ago. While it seemed understandable, even reasonable, to AkronNewsNow that a bar might make that mistake occasionally, John Campbell with the Ohio Investigative Unit, disagreed.
"In my opinion, it's not reasonable to expect that it will," said Campbell. "I do think that if you're the liquor permit holder or employees and you're going to cater to that clientele, you certainly need to stay on top of current laws and put procedures into place to stop that from happening."
Still, whether it's happening or not, there are very few official violations for underage drinking among downtown/UA bars:
- Lux (5/10)
- Pints (2/02, 1/01)
- TearEz (10/95)
- Downtown Coffee (1/11)
- RLJ Enterprises (9/09, 2/05, 2/05)
- Barley House (12/10, 3/09)
Bars that are cited for serving minors face sanctions, which in the cases noted here, usually involved a liquor license suspension that was waived if fines were paid.
Campbell says there could be other violations not noted in the database used by AkronNewsNow, possibly including those made by local police. However, Matt Mullins with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, says all violations are reported to the state.
A manager at The Dorm told AkronNewsNow that the establishment checks IDs at the door and doesn't allow anyone inside who is under 21 years of age.
Campbell says that while it's easier for kids to make fake identification cards, technology has also made it easier for bar employees to detect them, including the use of scanners. He says having a bouncer check IDs at the door doesn't solve the problem.
"It's probably a good practice for a lot of them to screen them at the door, but the bartender has also got to be ultimately held responsible for that, so they also need to check the identification," said Campbell.
Campbell says underage drinking in bars is a big problem, but not necessarily any worse in Summit County than other parts of the state.