By JOSE ZEPEDA
SAVOY — With businesses facing strict penalties for serving minors, local bars appear to be in agreement with each other when it comes to checking the IDs of people trying to buy alcohol, no matter their age.
When the Savoy 16 IMAX asked the village of Savoy for a liquor license in May, Heath Thomas, regional manager for Goodrich Quality Theaters, assured trustees that everyone would be carded.
“Whether they’re 21 or they’re 99, we ask to see their ID,” Thomas said at a village board meeting. “That might seem extreme, but it sets that into motion with anybody that’s serving alcohol, I have to see your ID.
“We (will) ID everyone to keep it fair,” Thomas said.
The Savoy 16 hopes to earn approval by mid- to late summer to serve alcohol, which the AMC Champaign 13 has been doing since 2013.
“We are not the first theater to serve alcohol,” Thomas said. “Our competitors are already doing it, and we’re not looking for a full bar.”
Goodrich’s policy of carding everyone, no matter their age, seems to be the most common way businesses card people.
The carding standard is set by the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, which provides classroom and online training to its liquor-serving members through a program called BASSET — Beverage Alcohol Seller Server Educational Training.
Executive director Daniel Clausner said all association members are strongly encouraged to check all IDs to verify ages.
“No ID, no booze,” said manager Jackie Samson.
Samson said some of Esquire’s older patrons complain about getting carded.
“Some say ‘I’m old enough to be your grandma,'” she said.
But others appreciate the request.
At the Savoy Village Board meeting in May, village President Joan Dykstra said she feels flattered when it occurs.
“It always makes my day,” she said.
Chris Knight, owner of the Blind Pig, a few doors down from the Esquire, said his employees card everyone, though since the bar is not close to the University of Illinois campus, it is not really a problem they worry about too much.
He has noticed that older customers do feel flattered when they get carded, as if feeling younger.
“No matter if we’ve seen them 100 times or not,” Cochrane said. “Every time.”
Being that both are popular locations for UI students, carding everyone is much more important to Cochrane.
“We pull 3,000-plus IDs per year,” he said.
Knight said penalties for businesses that serve alcohol to minors are becoming too expensive, though he understands why.
According to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, selling or serving alcohol to someone under age 21 is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 to $2,500 and up to one year of jail time. Liquor licenses can also be fined, suspended or revoked. The underage person buying alcohol is subject to a minimum fine of $500 and 25 hours of community service.
“We can complain about any law that is passed,” Samson said. “But it is what it is.”
Cochrane said he simply abides by the laws.
“If you serve minors, you get in trouble,” he said. “It’s simple.”