Bar owners getting tough

Three of Norwalk's nine bars have front-door signs clearly stating you have to be at least 21 to enter. One bar, which is privately run, requires a spouse, significant other or friend to be accompanied by a member in good standing in order to gain entry. Most of the bar owners interviewed this week by the Reflector said they will request people to leave if a patron over the age of 21 buys alcohol for an underage person. Eight bars in downtown Norwalk are within several blocks of each other.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


Three of Norwalk’s nine bars have front-door signs clearly stating you have to be at least 21 to enter. One bar, which is privately run, requires a spouse, significant other or friend to be accompanied by a member in good standing in order to gain entry.

Most of the bar owners interviewed this week by the Reflector said they will request people to leave if a patron over the age of 21 buys alcohol for an underage person. Eight bars in downtown Norwalk are within several blocks of each other.

Mary Davie has owned Bluto’s Sports Bar & Grill, 33 E. Seminary St., for the last seven years. People have to be 21 or with a parent to enter her establishment, one of two bars with signs prohibiting underage patrons.

“If they’re not with their parent, they can’t come in … unless it’s lunch time,” Davie said.

She noted that many young people working downtown often eat lunch at Bluto’s and drink pop.

“My bartenders are instructed to (check IDs) for anyone under the age of 50,” said Davie, who calls her business a “big stickler on IDs.”

Joanne Schaffer, who has run Shamrock Tavern on North Hester Street since about 1983, believes all the Norwalk bars do they best they can to check IDs and prevent underage people from obtaining alcohol. Shamrock has been owned by Schaffer’s family since 1946.

“They really should be with their parent(s),” said the owner who doesn’t work the night shift.

“It’s hard to keep up on it. I think everyone makes a good effort,” Schaffer said. “Anything can happen, though.”

Sandy Fillmore has been managing TJ’s Bar, 71 Jefferson St., for 2 1/2 years and is the nightly bartender. Two signs at each door say, “You have to be 21 to enter.”

“If I don’t recognize their faces, we ID them. Even if our regulars bring in new faces, I ID them. If they don’t have an ID, I say good-bye,” Fillmore said.

“I don’t care if they look 40 years old, if they don’t have an ID, I’ll make them leave.”

Donna Rossman, the owner of Charlie’s Bar since 1983, said her bouncers regularly check IDs. She declined to elaborate for this story.

Brian Rupp, who has run Rupp’s Place, 75 Whittlesey Ave. for the last eight years, said he may be “the strictest person in town” about underage patrons. Rupp’s has been family-owned for 37 years.

“I’m pretty much harsh on (those) 18 and under. I have a door man all the time,” Rupp said.

Like Charlie’s, people who are 18 are allowed into Rupp’s, but they have their hands marked.

Rupp said his bouncers check to see if those patrons go in the bathroom and wash off the marks. Those people are quickly ejected, he added.

The Office Bar, 13 Whittlesey Ave., like Bluto’s, has a sign on the front door prohibiting underage patrons.

“Our policy is not to allow people under 21 to stay,” said Ray Sizemore, the manager for more than 10 years. “We try to stick to that.”

Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 1248, 11 S. Prospect St., likely has the strictest rules for patrons to gain entry — legal or otherwise. The private fraternal organization, with about 500 members, has been in business for 94 years.

Administrator Jerry Leto said friends accompanied by members in good standing can come in twice, but have to be a member to enter the business the third time.

“Every Moose member has a membership card with their identification number. We check to see if it’s (current) … or if (they are) a good standing member,” Leto explained.

He estimated parents might bring in an underage person with them once every couple of weeks.

“We really don’t get the 15 to 19 crowd. … They don’t really hang out with their parents,” Leto said.

“We have a sign here that says you have to be 21 to sit at the bar. Everybody knows the rules when they become a member,” he said.

Buy a drink for somebody underage in The Office Bar and you’ll be shown the door.

“If we catch them, we’ll eject them both. Usually it doesn’t get to that point,” Sizemore said.

Bluto’s servers will pull people’s drinks and eject the offenders — and Davie, the owner, said that includes the underage person’s relatives.

“If they do it once, they’ll do it again,” she said.

If necessary, Schaffer will call police to Shamrock about an underage-related alcohol offense.

“I don’t like calling the police all the time. That’s what they’re there for,” she said. “Kids are kids. They’ll try anything.”


Some of you peo...

It's nice to see that Charlie's and Rupp's are trying to make themselves look good. Having door people means a whole lot of nothing. All the underagers know where they can go and will continue to go there. If you people really want to minimize the underage drinking you should start by closing some of these crappy bars that really don't care about underage drinking. The only reason Donna and Brian are saying these things is because they know the police will be reading this. If the police were really doing their job some of this underage problem would be solved.

Watching... (An...

It's a refreshing to see that at least some of the bar's are making the effort to curb the problem. If everyone keeps a eye on the 2 biggest offenders Charlie's and Rupp's They will fall in line or be or be shut down. You can bet that a crack down is coming in the future and we'll see how the bars do then. My hats off the people for making this such a hot topic and forcing the bars to tow the line!!! If the police and law director catch on of the bar's slacking off I hope they make a example of them!! And I'm betting they will!!

watching thats ...

There not any watching going on! Unless your watching all the underage kids get drunk. yeah a crack down is needed but its not happening, it hasnt been happening, and it probably wont ever be happening. I know of so many underage people that hit the bars on a saturday night because thats one of the busiest nights and they can get away with it. I honestly can not believe that charlies is still open that bar is the underage hot spot. And how no one has gotten caught is amazing. The cops do not check like they say they do. I know, I used to be under 21 too. And charlies was my spot. As for Rupps as long as you or your friends know who Rupp is it doesnt matter your age. Its going to stay that way too. Nothing is ever going to change those bars will always be the underage hot spot if they cut them out alcohol sales will go down and everyone know that. You know Norwalk would be so much nicer if we we would just get rid of the trash holes get something with a little bit more class and style.

charville (Anon...

the only coment i have is, i thought oney knavin and his wife (who is some how related to the schaffers) owned shamrock in the 40s , even into the 50s. i know because in the 51-52 the ohio national guard was called up to service, and they were still in the armory on w. monroe. the guys from there were patrons of oney's as it was refered to.

Watching (Anonymous)

OK here's what I propose, Every underage person caught drunk will sign a statement as to where they got drunk or get an extra charge and a fine of $150.00 and 3 days in jail. Now with this info the police should be able to put the "smackdown" on the bars!! I think this is what they should have been doing all along! And the best part is we'll all know if the police did this because the Norwalk Reflector will write a story about it!! What do you think??

re:watching (An...

How about we give the bar owners an incentive for not serving the underagers? How about the get $150 if an underage person tries to purchase alcohol and they turn them in. Sort of like the whistleblower law that reward people who blow the whistle on illegal activities at work.

watching (Anonymous)

I would think that would be like bribing the bars to do what there supposed to be doing anyway's. I would think there reward would be no fine from the state of Ohio. Not to mention the reputation of good business ethics. (Something a few of these bars are lacking) I truly disagree with paying someone to do something there supposed to be doing in the first place. I do understand what you saying, Perhaps the City of Norwalk could come up with some kind of reward program, Something they could hang up in the bar or dinner with the Mayor and Police Chief...LOL
P.S. I truly hope you not a bar owner trying to collect for lost revenue

my2cents (Anonymous)

First, Rupp's comment of being the strictest person in Norwalk is not true and many of us know it! I haven't been to a bar in a few years and even I know the word on the street is go to Rupp's if you're underage.

Secondly, Charlie's must have changed in the last few years. The last time our family went up as a group, this was probably 3 years ago, my sister-in-law wasn't allowed in the door because she wasn't 21. She was just a couple months shy of turning 21 and it didn't matter. And unfortunatly my husband's uncle and aunt are well established patron's of the bar and that didn't even make a difference.

I think the crackdown needs to happen within the establishments. The people at the door are just weeding out the young ones and the already drunk ones, but I personally think the problem is inside the bars. It's not to hard for a person of age to buy a shot of something, take it back to an underager and dump it into there pop. Maybe everyone should raise the age limits to 21 in order to even get in the door. I know I'll catch hell from the 18-20 age group, but unfortunatly it's the few bad ones that ruin the fun for everyone.

One who goes to...

It is well known that The Moose permits underage drinking and they are still allowing smoking. Anyone in Norwalk can walk into it and get a drink. The other clubs don't have a problem and are a great place for your family.

amy (Anonymous)

that Brian Rupp is nothing but a liar,i have known a couple of 19 year old people going up there and getting drunk,just in the past couple of weekends a 19 year old that works where i work sat there and bragged about how drunk he got at RUPPS BAR.

anyone (Anonymous)

Donna has been open for 23 years and has never served anyone underage and she has never been fined for anything,that girl that said she got drunk at Charlies did not get drunk there,she was drunk when before she went there.The bouncers would not let her in there,so she left,went to a party,they wouldn`t let her in so she went back up to Charlies for the 2nd time and they still wouldn`t let her in.So she got mad and told her mother she got drunk at Charlies,just to get them into trouble.she is a highschool kid playing her stupid little highschool`s little sk**ks like that that try getting other people in trouble

if you need to ...

That Girl was in the bar she was not the one that told people that seen her in the bar was the ones that let her mom know. Even when the door men where talked to they told how she was let in and that the people she was with told him she was 18 teen as she had no ID. maybe you should keep your mouth quit if you don't know what your talking about. or you know just drink one more.

If you witnesse...

If any of you people have witnessed underage drinking and have not reported it and turned them in at the very minute then you are all guilty of allowing underage drink tooo and should be held accountable.

Yes (Anonymous)

People have turned it in and the police do know about it, but say there is noting they can do about it. so maybe the people of Norwalk need to stand up like this mom did and do something about it.

smalltowner (An...

Maybe the answer is to bring back the "low beer" and the "high beer" we use to have and put he legal age limit back to 18 where it was and then the kids would not be drinking illegally and the bar tenders would be able to keep track of who is drinking too much and cut them off. In other words "do their jobs"I never understood the logic of getting rid of the different beers and changing the age . Most of the young men killed in the war are all underage for drinking but are legal age to get killed for their country. This just is my opinion but I know I am not alone in my thoughts.

Ignorance (Anon...

For those of you who say that these places don't serve underagers, are you serious? Do you honestly believe that these kids who are under 21 and are in the bar aren't drinking? I don't care how long you've known Donna, that doesn't mean that she hasn't served to underagers and she has. I don't have to sit here and say that Rupp's allows underagers to drink because we all know that that's true. Just because Donna has run Charlie's for so long and all of her loyal customers(Norwalk's drunks) say that she doesn't allow underagers to drink, doesn't mean anything. They are just never sober enough to see what's going on.

drinking age (A...

yes i to think the drinking age should be 18 teen, but what these two bars need to do must is look at the IDs and stop the kids under 18 teen from coming in if not with there parents, but what kind of mom and dad are you if you have your kids in a bar drinking. That are under 18.

T$Robinson (Ano...

I believe that the answer is not changing the drinking age , and it is not in making "high " and "low" beer ..when did we become a society that isn't responsible for our own action ?? why is it never our fault , because we always seem to be able to find someone else to blame! maybe the bars need to be set up differently , like an enclosed patio , where you must go to smoke , that has video surveilance on it , so the bouncers and bar tenders can watch as much as possible .. the idea of smokers standing out in front of a bar to have a cigarette , is only asking for trouble , because anyone could be sharing drinks and drugs with anyone out there . also , Ohio , needs to decide which side of the fence we are on with the drinking and driving issue .. if we are truely opposed to anyone drinking and driving , why do we allow to cheapest and coldest beer to be sold at gas stations?

truth (Anonymous)

some of the big fibs, from these owners&managers! wow! i found out that my son had been getting served at blutos at age 18.he is now 22.unfortuneatly i had not known this ,at the time he had moved the way he still patronizes the place.he also got served at tj's,charlie's,moose,eagles&rupps!i was a des.driver & had to pick someone up from tj's recently on a weekend night,&that bartender with the dark hair was serving several minors plus letting people take off their clothes! so i seen it first hand!they are really stretching the truth!!!

big kid (Anonymous)

Help me out here,truth...exactly where is TJ's???

mom (Anonymous)

STOP LETTING KIDS DRINK!!!!!!!!!!! and if they don't then they should not be opened.

re:mom (Anonymous)

Kids need to stop trying to drink too, if any of you were good parents your kids wouldn't be wanting to go out to the bars and drink until they were legal.

bad or good (An...

it dosen't have anything to do with being a good parent.Don't think that bad parents kids just get in to stuff like this because if you do you need to take of the blind fold. kids will do what they want and parents are not with them 24/7 to know all that they do.Even kids that come from the nices homes do alot its just not all kids get busted.

Thanking (Anonymous)

Thinking it’s so simple for the intoxicated citizens of Norwalk to put the responsibility on the parents or on the Brants for drinking too much. We ought to start looking at the bars that don't ID and just keep supplying more drinks to an individual that already had more then they should. This is the business they decide to open, and should be held responsible for their part in it. If you are a bar owner you need to know what is going on in your establishment or you need to be closed down. These are people’s lives that you are playing with. We have two families that lives are changed because of this bar owner not doing her job the right way. There are even more families out there that lives are being affected by these places that we have not heard from. As the 16 year old had under age friends with her. What else is going to happen for this town to wake up and see that this bar is not more important then are kids and a person’s life? What has this world come to when going out and having a place like this to party in is more important then this individualizes life and the future of our kids? These are our children and what type of parents would we be if we just sit back and say its ok for an establishment like this to do as they please, and put the blame all on to the parents that maybe doing a good job to start with. Kids will do what ever they think they can pull off and we all know that once some individualizes start to drink they my not know when to stop as their judgment is effected by the alcohol. That is when the owner or employees need to step up and do their jobs or as I said before not be opened. I would think that life is more significant then a bar. Business like this should not be able to corrupt are youth. If this establishment was doing it job then a 16 year old girl would not have been able to enter the door. Charlie’s and all these other establishments that think it is “OK “to corrupt are young adults (under age) we need to show them that the parents of this town will not stand by and let it be done. There is more places that adults can party in lives can not be replaced and the time that is token away from a family with their loved ones can not be given back. Is there not already too many alcoholic’s in this town why would the bars need the business of are kids?

Richard (Anonymous)

I cannot imagine that any bar owner or employee would assume the liability of knowingly serving a minor -- the profit or tips from serving a few beers is far outweighed by what they have to lose.

Thirty years ago I worked at a carry-out and accidentally sold beer to a minor (I got him confused with his brother, who I had carded that same day and was of age). The Shelby police hauled me down to the station and told me the fines and jail time I could face. All that because some dumbass kid tricked me into selling him beer -- and then driving down the runway at the Shelby airport at 1:00 in the morning and getting caught. Luckily, they didn't file any charges, but from that day on I carded everyone. The ones that usually got pissy with me about showing their ID were the ones that knew they were underage.

And I also got to see all the fake ID's -- I saw more Florida driver's licenses in a week than any officer in Miami saw ! I knew they were fake, but was told we were off the hook somewhat as long as they presented some kind of ID, but it was still up to our judgement. And this was before computer graphics -- I'm sure a good fake ID is alot easier to come by nowadays (just look at

Maybe if the state liquor agents spent less time harassing veteran's clubs for selling tip tickets and more time in places where underage sales are a problem we could get this fixed.

My point is that the ultimate responsibility is on the person making the illegal purchase, which is exactly what it is. If they're under 18, that responsibility also falls to the parents -- in particular, that mother should have known what her daughter was up to and hold her accountable. If that means turning her in to the police, then so be it. As for the 18 to 20 year-olds, they should be told what the penalties are and that they will get caught eventually.

And bar owners and employees should be scared of having to pay fines or face jail time for knowingly serving underage because they, too, will get caught.

re Richard (Ano...

Sorry but the mom did turn her in to the police, and what you my not no that in this town kids don't get in to troble for what they do only the parents. If the parents can not come up with the money to pay the fine they go to jail. What did the kid get told that they should not do that.if the court put it on the kids maybe they would think before they do


OMG - Brians quote is hilarious--- did you ever notice that every weekend the cops are at Rupps? Read in the newspaper -- I know 4 kids underage that got busted at Rupps -- BUT ONLY AFTER THE COPS CAME!! Seriously Brian let's not act like a Saint -- U AND I KNOW where the problem is in your bar! Maybe your theory is -- $$$$$$$ But how would you feel if one of the underage kids left and got into a horrific accident?????????????

T$Robinson (Ano...

to " thanking" you have got to be kidding me ?? why can't people take responsibility for their own actions ?? that's the way that things are supposed to be .. no one can make me do anything that i don't want to do ! ever! unless they have a weapon pointed towards me, and i have never seen any bar owner , or bar tender do anything like that !! please dislodge your head from your butt, and get real , you are definately "thanking" and NOT "thinking"

Gas Guzzler (An...

i know that i am changing the subject here for a minute , but please bear with me ... yesterday i drove to Bellevue , and i couldn't help but notice that the price of gas is $.20 higher per gallon, than any of the surrounding area !! why?? i feel that the local Norwalk dealers are taking full advantage of us , and i fear that we have become so complacent , that we will just continue to buy our gas here , and continue to give them a higher profit margin than anyone in the surrounding area. i would like to show these Norwalk gas dealers that they have underestimated us!! i would like to show them that we , as a community , are going to join forces , and stand together , and show them that we have power and control , in the numbers that we posess..i would like to create a summertime"gas out" where all of the gas customers go outside of Norwalk to buy yheir gas , even if it takes all summer to show our strength , and to get the results that we demand ..if we all join together , and buy our gas elsewhere , the Norwalk dealers will be forced to lower their prices to a competitive range , as to compete for our business with the surrounding area .. i am asking for your support , please join us , we can , and we will make a difference if we all join together !! please tell your friends and neighbors , and relatives and all of your friends in your email address book.. lets start this today , and see how long it takes for them to realize that we , joined together , have strength , and we have the power to make things right... Thank-You