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Can’t take any chances

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Joanne Schaffer, the owner of Shamrock Tavern, said her servers “are good at nailing” people who buy alcohol for anyone under 21.

“They won’t be served again if they’re pulling that,” she said.

If someone is caught buying alcohol for someone underage at Bluto’s Sports Bar & Grill, 33 E. Seminary St., that person and their drink will be pulled.

Donna Romick has been a bartender at The Dinky, 19 W. Main St., for a year. She said the establishment, in existence for three years, rarely encounters fake IDs because the bar attracts an “older crowd,” people between their 30s and 60s.

“We’ve never had underage drinkers here,” Romick said. “We don’t serve anybody unless we check (IDs). If they don’t have an ID, we don’t serve them — that’s our policy.”

When asked about how Shamrock handles fake ID situations, Schaffer said: “You pretty much learn to know your customer(s). I don’t know if (my servers) have seen a fake ID.”

Romick said size of The Dinky means it’s fairly easy for bartenders to monitor patrons’ activities. “I can see what happens here because it’s smaller.”

“We don’t have bouncers. We don’t have a large enough crowd,” she said.

“We don’t have the younger crowd, like Charlie’s,” the bartender said, referring to the 54 Benedict Ave. bar.

Donna Rossman, the owner of Charlie’s Bar since 1983, said her bouncers check IDs and kick out someone if he or she buys alcohol for an underage person. She calls her establishment “tight on security,” with bouncers “walking the floor all night.”

On July 6, a 16-year-old Norwalk girl came to Charlie’s “drunk as a skunk,” Rossman said. Bouncers kicked her out when she came through both doors, she added.

Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said an officer’s report indicates the girl entered Charlie’s and somehow grabbed a drink from the bar, which prompted the bouncers to eject her. The incident remains under investigation.

“I’ve helped them (the police) catch these kids and get them out of here,” Rossman said. Cashen said the owner “occasionally” calls police about underage-related alcohol offenses.

TJ’s Bar, 71 Jefferson St., has four bouncers: one at each door, a third near the front door and a fourth person in the patio area. Manager Sandy Fillmore said the bouncers, who aren’t allowed to drink, would throw out someone with a fake ID and call police.

“I’ve never ever got one — knock on wood,” she added.

Brian Rupp, who runs Rupp’s Place, 75 Whittlesey Ave., is considering buying two pocket devices for about $360 which bouncers would use to read a person’s ID and identifies the person’s age. Rupp said he was going to use wrist bands to identify patrons under 18, but they were too expensive.

In the case of fake IDs, Rupp’s bouncers confiscate them, call the police and request officers run the person’s Social Security number. Rupp said those numbers are often what lead bouncers to discover an ID is fake.

Officers and servers at Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 1248, 11 S. Prospect St., are required to be certified in Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPs). It is an all-day class, ending with a pass-fail test.

Administrator Jerry Leto said TIPs allows the officers and servers to know how to handle customers or a situation where someone is unruly.

“It might be required that everyone in the state is TIPs-trained. We’re ahead of the ballgame. We think it’s important,” Leto said. “We’re pretty strict on this because we’re a charitable organization and because of our (tax) exempt status.”

Bluto’s servers have a resource book provided by the state which shows them how to identify fake IDs.

“Fake IDs are hard to detect. You do the best you can. You can read that book a hundred times and one can get past you,” owner Mary Davie said. “If you’re in doubt, you ask for a second form of ID.”

The Office Bar Manager Ray Sizemore said he “doesn’t come across” fake ID incidents much. He has the option to confiscate the ID in question.

“Generally we will ask the person to leave,” Sizemore added.

Office Bar servers have access to a booklet/pamphlet designed to help identify bogus IDs.

“We also have an electronic scanner,” Sizemore said. “It reads the magnetic strip and returns the information on it.”

Charlie’s bouncers are required to put large X’s on people’s hands if they are under 21, signifying they’re not allowed to be served alcohol.

“Charlie’s is not breaking any laws by allowing people under 21 in; they’re just making their life difficult,” Sizemore, of The Office Bar, said.

Dinky bartender Romick called letting 18-year-old patrons into Charlie’s a “fatal mistake.”

“We have a dining crowd, rather than a drinking crowd,” she said. “We don’t have any drinking, rowdy crowds.”

Rossman and Jan Hall, co-owner of The Glass Bar, 45 E. Main St., declined to comment.

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