Local bars toughen up after drinking arrests

Local bars and nightclubs are attempting to curb underage drinking after several nightspots were raided by Alcohol Beverage Control officers last month.

Since the busts, which resulted in the arrest of seven GW students, several clubs have changed their policies to accommodate only patrons above age 21, instead of allowing people ages 18 to 20 to enter but not drink.

Many clubs have enough confidence in their security system to allow underage students inside, said a GW student who promotes for local clubs and asked not to be identified.

“The ones that basically lack in security, those are the ones that are going to be scared,” he said. “They were leaving a lot of room for less-than-good IDs.”

Lulu’s, which was raided Sept. 24, now only admits patrons above age 21. The Cellar, another club raided that weekend, has closed.

Tequila Grill manager Craig Merrills said his bar still allows underage patrons to enter on occasion, although he said it happens less often.

“It’s something you can’t fool around with,” Merrills said.

He said Tequila Grill hires off-duty police officers to patrol the club on “18 and older” nights.

“We’ve always been very careful to do everything we can to not allow underage students to drink,” he said.

Merrills said underage drinking occurs even when the bar takes security measures.

“I’ve seen people get through,” he said. “There are so many fake IDs, it’s hard to know which is real and which is fake.”

Many other clubs in the area still are allowing underage students to enter and promoting their clubs to underage students.

The GW student promoter said he targets freshmen, who are usually underage, as part of a campaign for a club.

“I don’t necessarily target them only, but they are a significant part of a party,” he said. “I try to grab everybody up and down the spectrum.”

He said freshmen are the easiest to promote to because a vast majority of them live in Thurston Hall.

“It’s easy to promote to 1,100 people at one location,” he said.

He said he does not feel responsible for students who illegally drink at events he promotes.

“I recognize the fact that it’s wrong, but people are making a conscious decision that they are going to take the risk of getting busted,” he said.

The promoter said he believes club attendance decreased slightly after the raids but he said it has returned to normal.

“Some people are going to be nervous but only for a short amount of time,” he said. “People will always go out because it’s part of college life.”

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