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New legislation allows for swim-up bars and younger servers

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jun 09, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — New liquor laws are aiming to help the restaurant industry with staffing shortages and that means you’ll be able to get alcohol from younger servers and in wetter environments.

"This opens up another pool of people that want to get into the industry, into the hospitality industry," said Scott Ellis the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

One bill, which went to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk on Thursday, allows servers as young as 17 to serve alcoholic beverages. The other, which still needs final approval, would allow hotels, resorts and water parks to open swim-up bars.

“We think it'll have a huge impact," Ellis said. "If you've traveled anywhere in the state of Michigan in the last couple of years, especially in the last year, you'll see service at times is strained, and it's literally because they don't have enough people to do the job.”

Ellis said these new laws will especially help businesses up north.

“We think this will impact the industry tremendously, especially in northern Michigan. We're seeing a lot of the resorts and places that are hurting, hurting to get staff," he said.

Initially regulators with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission voiced some concerns over allowing 17-year-olds to serve alcohol.

“Immaturity and peer pressure may contribute to a younger employee selling or serving other minors or intoxicated persons," the commission wrote in their initial concerns to the legislature.

Legislators took those concerns into consideration and amended the bill, adding mandatory training for young servers and requiring a supervisor who is at least 18 years old to be present while a 17-year-old is serving alcohol. Now the Liquor Control Commission says they are neutral about the new legislation.

In addition to helping the restaurant industry with their staffing shortages, Ellis said, allowing swim up bars in Michigan will make taking kids to water parks that much more enjoyable.

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