ALE renewing enforcement of bar memberships

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thanks to renewed enforcement of a state alcohol law you might not be able to get a drink, regardless of your age, if you’re not a card carrying member of that establishment.

Recently, ten bars in downtown Wilmington were issued warnings by the ALE for allowing patrons in without memberships.

Some owners and bartenders are now afraid the policy will keep people away from downtown.

“I don’t understand why you would have to be a member of an establishment to drink there,” said James Carver.

If a bar doesn’t receive at least 30% of their revenues from the sale of food then they are classified as a private club and must require everyone who comes through the door to become a member or kick them out.

“I feel like potentially it could hurt business because a lot of times it’s a deterrent because somebody comes into a place and they automatically ask for a membership,” said Paul Royster.

To apply for a membership you should be prepared to give your name and age as well as your social interests and hobbies.

“It’s a little weird,” said Royster. “I would be a little thrown off by that question, especially when I just came there to get a beer.”

“It’s just one more aspect of it where they’re just getting involved in things they don’t really have any business to be involved in,” said Carver. “This establishment should be able to serve anybody of legal drinking age without having to be an official member of the establishment. It’s a ridiculous fine if they don’t ask someone if they’re a member of the establishment.”

Failure to comply and you and your favorite watering hole could be cut off at the tap.

“I don’t understand the point other than I guess the control aspect or a little money grab,” said Carver. “I don’t understand what the real point of it is.”

WWAY spoke with a number of bar owners who preferred not to go on camera. The owners all said that ALE needs to be focused on the things they are doing right such as keeping under age kids out of bars and training bartenders not to over serve patrons.

WWAY also tried to reach out to the local ALE office but they have yet to return our call.

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