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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

New Law Lets 18-year-olds Serve Booze in Restaurants

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Delaware restaurant owners say a law lowering the age to serve alcohol to 18 makes sense

Restaurant owners are applauding a bill that lowers the age waitstaff can serve alcohol in Delaware from nineteen to eighteen.

The industry pushed for the measure to expand a tight market of available labor, particularly in seasonal locales like the Sussex County beaches.  More teenage waitstaff will now be able to serve thirsty patrons their favorite Dog Fish Head craft brew, mojito, G&T or Chardonnay.

But sorry kids, college-age teens still won’t be able to tip back a stiff drink after a shift of slinging hash or for that matter get behind the bar and mix up a cocktail for a paying customer: the legal age for imbibing – and pouring – adult beverages remains 21.

The new law was sponsored by House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and co-sponsored by Senator Enesto Lopez – the bi-partisan, bi-cameral duo represent the stretch of Delaware coastline that includes the resort towns of Lewes and Rehoboth, where local restaurants particularly rely on summertime teenage labor to staff their businesses.

One successful local restaurateur said the age adjustment was long overdue.

“This change in the law makes sense,” said David Dietz, owner of the popular BBC Tavern and Grill in Greenville. “I never understood the rationale for the age requirement for picking up a beer at the service bar and delivering it to a table. I think 18 is a logical age.”

The measure doesn’t allow the youngsters to serve booze in every establishment.  The act specifically “lowers the age of persons permitted to serve alcohol from 19 to 18 years of age for all establishments licensed for the on-premises sale and consumption of alcoholic liquor except taverns and taprooms.”

Governor Carney signed the legislation into law on July 17.  No word on what libation was served at the ceremony.


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