Though often cautious when it comes to approving new alcohol-selling businesses within its boundaries, the Coliseum Square Association voted overwhelmingly Monday night to oppose the idea of banning 18-to-20-year-olds from existing bars.
Patrons of establishments that primarily sell alcohol must be at least 18 to enter, under state law, and 21 to drink. Under a proposal pending that could come before the City Council as early as Thursday, anyone who wished to enter a bar in New Orleans must be 21, in an effort to curb underage drinking and reduce crime around bars.
In a brief but pointed discussion, that idea was decried as “misguided” Monday evening by the leadership of the Coliseum Square Association.
“I don’t think keeping 18-to-20-year-olds out of bars is going to reduce crime,” said association president Robert Wolf afterward. “What it’s going to hurt is a lot of bands, and places that sell cheese fries.”
Other said that the measure would make underage drinkers do so more furtively, where they are more likely to cause harm to themselves or others. After about 10 minutes — with no one saying anything in favor of the proposed law — the association voted 9-1 to send Councilwoman Stacy Head a letter saying they thought the new restriction would be a poor idea.
The decision drew praise from David Melius, a neighborhood resident who owns Bruno’s Tavern in the Riverbend.
“It’s about time for neighborhood associations to speak for some of the businesses,” Melius said.
The board also heard a proposal from an alcohol-selling establishment within its boundaries, Mayas restaurant on Magazine Street. The restaurant hopes to begin hosting live music and salsa dancing and serving tapas — as well as allowing its customers to leave the restaurant with go cups — but needs the city’s approval for the changes.
Association members offered muted responses to the idea, with little strong opinion by way of support or opposition. Some worried that the change would represent a transition from a restaurant to a nightclub, but others said that Mayas has been such a good neighbor that they deserved the opportunity.
No immediate decision was required, so the board deferred a decision until next month to study the issue.
To read our live coverage of the night’s meeting, click in the box below.