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Laws about minors in "bars": Washington/Oregon

Discussion in 'Northwest' started by draheim, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,120) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    Another thread in the NW forum this morning reminded me of this issue, which has really started to stick in my crawmainly because it seems so arbitrarily applied. I'm hoping someone on here (maybe a bar owner or lawyer, or perhaps a state legislator who also happens to be a BA) can explain it to me in a way that makes sense.

    In Washington, minors can't go into "bars" or "pubs"meaning apparently any establishment that serves beer, wine, and/or liquor that doesn't have some kind of wall (not sure on the height requirement) between where the alcohol is served and where the tables and chairs are (where food is served). It apparently doesn't matter if the place has a pretty wide food menu, and it doesn't matter how far from the bar you are sitting; as far as I can tell, what's needed is some kind of wall (I could be wrong about this). We've taken our kid to a place that has 20 taps and a pretty meager food menu, but has a wallno problem. But then we go up the street to another place that has 5 taps and a much wider food menu, but no wall—and have been denied entry.

    Now I can see why certain bars are (and should be) adults only. These are not the places I want to take our child anyway. But there are other places that, aside from that missing wall, have a local, family-type atmosphere. On several occasions, we've had family in town and wanted to take them to a favorite pub/restaurant (which, by the way, we had been able to enter with our child as an infant) only to be told "no minors allowed."

    It's frustrating. And frankly it feels like we are being discriminated against. Just because I'm sitting in a pub, eating a meal and drinking a beer, doesn't mean I'm going to let our child consume alcohol. If we're far enough away from the bar at our own table, we're not exposing our child to undesirable language etc. And I can't imagine that having a kid on the premises is going to bother any of the other patrons either—although I guess some people can be pretty intolerant.

    I assume the laws are similar in Oregon. We ran into the same issue recently down in Portland, in a downtown hotel. We'd just gotten into town after a funeral and were famished, but the hotel restaurant was not open yet (around 3 p.m.) and they couldn't serve us food in the "bar" area, which was basically a bunch of tables and chairs and a big-screen TV. Made absolutely no sense to us. So we had to walk down the street to a Chipotle.

    Anyway, here's the applicable code from the RCW: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=66.44.310 I'd appreciate if anyone could explain this to me, it might help me figure out where I can and can't eat and drink for the next couple of decades. Cheers!
    jpbebeau likes this.
  2. jpbebeau

    jpbebeau Savant (440) Washington Sep 11, 2011 Verified

    I, too, would love for clarification on this. Been in Elliott Bay Brewing in West Seattle several times with our baby. Randomly turned away at other places. Able to enter Super Deli Mart (beer on tap) but unable to enter Bottleworks.
  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,390) Washington Sep 24, 2007 Verified

    There are various licenses. If you have a "tavern" license, you can only serve beer, wine and cider, and minors aren't allowed in at all. A "full service" (I'm not sure of the actual license name) means you have to serve a certain number of "meals" ( I worked at a bar once that had a nice pizza oven and we made pizza's, calzones, salads and a few sandwiches. None of these items met the LCB's definition of a "meal". We kept 5 different frozen TV dinners in the freezer. Those did meet the LCB's definition of a meal. Go figure.) and have a separate dining area. The separation can be something as simple as a railing, it just has to be a clear dividing line.

    There were changes made last year for beer stores. If a store got a Tavern license, they could sell beer by the glass as well as beer to go, but you couldn't take your kids in. If they had a retail license,you could take kids in, but not serve on-premise. They changed that now so that you can take kids into stores to buy off-premise beer and drink on premise while you're there.

    So basically, if you serve spirits, you must serve "meals" (even clubs like the Showbox, which don't have kitchens, have their 5 TV dinners in a freezer to meet that requirement. There was talk of creating a "Cabaret" license which would cover this and exclude them, but I don't know if that's happened.), and can allow minors in a separate dining room. If you're just a "beer bar", you're exempt from the food requirements, but minors can't come in at all. Hope this helps. I need a beer after thinking about this.
  4. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (410) Washington Jul 1, 2005

  5. kscaldef

    kscaldef Champion (855) Oregon Jun 11, 2010 Verified

    Okay, so now can someone explain Oregon? Why do some establishments allow minors until 6 vs 8 vs 10?
  6. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Advocate (550) Oregon Aug 17, 2005 Verified

    The OLCC requires minors to be out by 10pm (unless it's changed recently), but it's up to the establishment to determine exactly when they want to go kid free. Generally speaking, family-oriented places (like HUB and Laurelwood) tend to allow kids as late as possible to capture as much available business as they can, while other places that are more alcohol-focused (like the Horsebrass) tend to go kid free earlier in the evening so that they can attract people who don't want to be surrounded by children while they get drunk.
    John_M likes this.
  7. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,215) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member Verified

    "while other places that are more alcohol-focused (like the Horsebrass) tend to go kid free earlier in the evening so that they can attract people who don't want to be surrounded by children while they get drunk"

    I think that captures my reason for liking the horsebrass so much in a nutshell. Well, that and the fact that they almost always have Blue Dot on tap there. :)
  8. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,120) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    I believe the children are our future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
  9. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (845) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    What beertunes said.

    One thing that bugs me, and I assume has nothing to do with liquor laws, is when a place has happy hour in the bar but regular pricing in the restaurant. It's like a fee for having kids with you.
  10. guajolote

    guajolote Advocate (505) Oregon Sep 12, 2008

  11. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,390) Washington Sep 24, 2007 Verified

    It's not a kid penalty, but a way to drive business to the bar. I think a lot of bars would like to get rid of Happy Hours, but it's the kind of thing they think they have to do because everyone else is doing it. It's funny sometimes to see people come into a bar 10 minutes after HH and get mad because they don't get their Fifty cents or a buck off a drink, but it can frustrate staff.
  12. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (685) Oregon Aug 25, 2009 Staff Member Verified

    Not sure the reasons why, but here in Oregon No Food = No Kids. Oakshire has sandwiches shipped in on Saturdays so kids can come to the brewery with their parents. 16 Tons in Eugene had to shut out minors when they got their taps because they didn't serve food.
  13. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,120) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    I don't care about that as much; usually if I'm going to some kind of pub/restaurant with my family it's to eat as much as to drink. What bugs me is the seemingly arbitrary nature about which of these places allow minors and which don't. Beertunes' explanation about different licenses makes sense (sort of), but it still seems pretty random in a lot of cases. I assume the situations in Oregon and Washington are pretty similar, based on personal experience and anecdotes here.
  14. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Advocate (600) Washington Mar 9, 2008 Verified

    It's unlikely that any of these places are going to start having uniform family-friendly hours, so I would suggest keeping a mental note or even a real list of places on your smartphone that you want to frequent and the hours in which kids are allowed.

    I'll start (off the top of my head):

    Naked City allows kids at all hours in designated areas
    Big Time allows kids until 9 pm (or 8?) but not in the bar area
    Hudson allows kids at all hours in designated areas
    The Red Door allows kids at all hours in designated areas
    Tangletown allows kids at all hours in designated areas
    Barking Dog Alehouse allows kids at all hours in designated areas
    Roosevelt Ale House allows kids at all hours in designated areas

    Brouwer's does not allow kids
    74th Street Ale House does not allow kids
    Uber Tavern does not allow kids
    Duck Island does not allow kids
    Cooper's Alehouse does not allow kids

    Fremont Brewing/Urban Beer Garden allows kids (and leashed dogs) at all hours in all areas
    optophobia likes this.
  15. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,120) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    Funny the article uses St. Louis as an example - that's where I was born and raised. No wonder I've been perplexed by these rules; they're different from what I grew up with. And until I became a dad (here in Seattle), I had no reason to be aware of it.
  16. I grew up in England, and everyone takes their kid to the pub. If you have a meal, you can buy your >14 year old a beer to have with his meal.
    This countrys so crazy about booze they card 30 year olds for a mere pint.....
  17. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,120) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    Hell I've been carded and I'm 42. Ridiculous.
  18. HuskyinPDX

    HuskyinPDX Advocate (680) Washington Jan 23, 2011 Verified

    I had this happen to me in Portland with my infant daughter. I had no idea that a 8 week old baby in a "resturant" setting was considered a drinking minor. I was pretty pissed.

    This never made sense to me. It's not like a baby is going to drink. I took my daughter to Deschutes and HotD all the time. Wendy started to remember her name because we were there so much. The food selection is pretty limited there as well. Deschutes on the other hand is often packed with kids.

    If a business owner wants to keep kids out, and miss out on business, then that is what they are doing.