One question that gets asked often is whether or not minors can be employed in a business that is selling alcoholic beverages.  We’d like to take a moment to clear up any potential confusion.

Minors CAN be employed in a bona fide eating establishment that serves alcohol as an incidental part of the meal.  Examples of this would be a waitress, hostess, or bus boy in a restaurant where alcoholic beverages are served to patrons in conjunction with a meal.  In this example, a minor acting as the waitress could also serve the alcohol.

However, if the primary function of the establishment is the consumption of alcohol, then minors are not permitted to be employed, even if the establishment serves food such as appetizers.  An example would be a tavern that primarily serves alcohol but happens to offer food.

One instance worth clarifying is the restaurant which also has a dedicated bar area.  While minors are able to work in the food serving section of the location, they are not allowed to work in the bar as a cocktail waitress, bar back, or bartender.  These positions must be held by persons over the age of 21.  This means that an individual under 21 would be allowed to serve food at a restaurant and even go into the bar area to pick up a glass of wine, beer, or cocktail and deliver it to a table where customers are dining.  However, that same individual would not be allowed to work in the bar area of the same restaurant where the primary purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages.

A “real-life” situation where a restaurant owner or manager would have to be very careful would be as follows:

The restaurant has both a dining area and a bar. On a busy Friday night, one of the cocktail waitresses from the bar calls in sick. In a pinch for staffing, the manager pulls one of his waitresses over from the dining section and asks her to work the evening in the bar serving drinks. The employee filling in for the absent worker in the bar must be over the age of 21.

There are occasional exceptions to this rule such as a musician under the age of 21 who is performing in a lounge, tavern, or bar.  The musician would be permitted to work their job but would not be allowed to remain in the bar area before or after their set.

One role of Alcoholic Beverage Consulting Service is to make sure that licensees understand the limits of their liquor license and avoid legal issues regarding the employment of minors and other guidelines stipulated by their license.

Please review the video below for more information.