GREEN BAY, Wis. — Servers as young as 14-years-old could be bringing beer and other alcoholic beverages to your table, if a new bill becomes law in Wisconsin.
A bill that began circulating in Madison on Monday could allow employees as young as 14-years-old to serve alcohol to restaurant diners. The bill would allow younger teens to serve drinks with a meal to seated customers only.
Under the bill, a licensed operator must be on site overseeing non-licenses employees. That’s already part of the state’s current law and will not change.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin provided information about the bill on its Facebook page and directed people to contact their state legislators to support the bill.
The move is aimed at helping alleviate a shortage of workers in these jobs across the state. At Copper State Brewing Co. in Green Bay, Wis., co-owner Missy Martens said she's fortunate to have enough staff to serve customers.
Copper State Brewing Co. has a diverse menu with food, coffee and signature beers.
“We often have plenty of people who want to serve and bartend and barista. We’re actually doing quite well on front-of-house staff,” she said. “We have a great front-of-house who is really committed and dedicated to our purpose and our culture and mission. We have a lot who have been with us for a long time.”
Martens said she prefers to have older servers who can talk about the beer they brew on site.
“For most of our servers, they’re usually over 21. Then they can be a lot more knowledgeable about our beer. They can have tasted it. They can share what it tastes like and tell what their favorites are, and really be able to talk knowledgeably about it,” she said. “I can’t quite picture a 14-year-old being able to sell our beer the way we want them to and be ask knowledgeable about them as we’d like.”
Copper State Brewing Co. patron Cynthia Goetz said she is skeptical of people that young serving alcohol.
“For me personally, I feel like it’s not a great idea, just because students are still in school learning and their brain is still developing at that age,” she said.
Goetz works at a supper club where she serves alcohol. She said it’s a job that comes with a unique set of skills and tasks.
“Asking for IDs and making sure everyone is of age,” Goetz said. “Coming from a small town, it’s kind of difficult and different when people are at a younger age.”
However Martens said she is all for 14-years-olds working, and working in the hospitality industry. But she said there's other ways for them to grow in a job that don't involve alcohol.
“Our kids work in our restaurant and they’re learning a ton of things, but there are plenty of jobs we can put them to that aren’t the actual serving of alcohol,” she said.