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Local bars watch age limit

Students should expect to be carded as they enter local bars in South Orange, bar owners say.

Cryan's Beef and Ale House, The Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant, and Bunny's Ristorante and Pizzeria are three of South Orange's restaurants and bars that are taking steps to prevent underage students from entering their bars and purchasing alcohol.

Cryan's has seen multiple underage students attempt to enter the bar this year, according to manager Josephine Mellilo.

"We started bar trivia on Monday night, and the first night we started, it was Labor Day, Monday, Reggie (bartender) was outside and turned away 53 underage (people)," Mellilo said.

Reggie Martin, Cryan's head bartender said the number of minors seeking to enter Cryan's hoping to get a drink has declined since Labor Day.

"Monday's is the biggest underage night here," Martin said. "(Monday) night, it was 15 or 20 people, mostly girls . . . they all try and come in groups."

Mellilo said they turn away a handful of minors each night and that the number of minors who attempt to enter Cryan's is lower on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends.

Seton Hall senior Emily Coady, a regular at Cryan's, said she was surprised that she was asked for a second form of ID this fall.

"They've really upped their game at the door," Coady said.

Dan Soboti, one of the owners of the Gaslight, said he doesn't see many minors attempt to purchase alcohol at his bar.

"We always have been very strict, so underage drinking isn't too big of a deal at all," Soboti said, as he pointed out a section of the wall by a door of the Gaslight where they post confiscated fake IDs.

Leslie Pogany, owner of Bunny's, said that she, as well as her bartenders and wait-staff, all watch for anyone who looks too young.

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"We are in a college town, and we have been in business here for over 80 years . . . every year kids try to come in, they're kids, I have three of them, I understand," Pogany said.
"We all know this is an important part of our job, (the police) will arrest whoever served them and they will lose their license," Pogany said.

Each of the three local bars is diligent in looking for fake IDs and neither Cryan's, the Gaslight, nor Bunny's accept duplicate or expired IDs.
For Martin and Pogany, one of the telltale signs of a fake ID include a person's date of birth.

"You can tell these 20 year-olds weren't born in 1980 or '81," Martin said.
According to the State of New Jersey's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Handbook a sale should not be made if there is "any doubt" the purchaser is under 21 and retailers should thoroughly inspect any identification that is presented as well as carefully questioning the person presenting it and comparing them to the photo and written information provided on the ID. Signatures may also be utilized in confirming a person's identity.
In order to comply with state recommendations, local bar employees watch for details like a person's height or eye color, as well as checking the picture on IDs, when carding younger patrons. The Gaslight even uses an ultraviolet light, or "black light," to check the validity of ID cards.

When they catch minors attempting to purchase alcohol, each of the bars immediately has the offending minor leave the premises.Mellilo said Cryan's will confiscate the fake IDs of repeat or persistent offenders, and Soboti said the Gaslight's policy is to immediately confiscate all fakes, which will be added to their display.

Seton Hall junior Steven Thom said he was asked to leave Cryan's last year after he and four of his friends, only one of whom was of legal drinking age, attempted to purchase a beer at Cryan's.

"Three of the kids asked for beers and I asked for one, too," Thom said. "(The waitress) asked for IDs and it was kind of humiliating. She asked us to walk out, so we did."

Brenden Higashi can be reached at


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