Over the past few months, several nightspots in downtown Youngstown have changed their weekend age limit to 21 and up in an attempt to curb underage drinking. However, this trend has hurt some students’ social lives.
“It’s not stopping them coming down during the day,” said Lyndsey Hughes, director of downtown events and marketing. “The policy might affect underagers going to those bars, but that’s the point.”
Stephanie Davis, a Youngstown State University freshman, said she enjoys going downtown with friends — without drinking illegally.
“Those who are, are just ruining it for the rest of us,” Davis said. “I want to enjoy the new downtown on a Saturday night at one of the new restaurants that has opened up without my age being a problem.”
Christian Rinehart, the owner of O’Donold’s Irish Pub and Grill, said the age limit protects his bar.
“What kids don’t understand is that if we get caught with underage [drinking], we could look at huge liabilities, such as losing our liquor license,” he said.
JoAnne Tombo, a YSU student and an employee of V2 Wine Bar Trattoria, said she and her fellow employees now have an easier time preventing underage drinking, thanks to the restrictions.
“I believe that [V2] should stay 21 [and older],” Tombo said. “We try to have a very professional environment, and we don’t need a case of underage drinking happening.”
Tombo added that she’s noticed underage drinking happening less since bars have began enforcing the policy.
Although downtown Youngstown has had some changes, most nightspots are still open to all ages from Sunday through Thursday.
“Even though we don’t have kids under 21 come in here on the weekends, we still encourage them to come in and enjoy our food and new establishment,” Rinehart said.