In part two of this three-week series about alcohol consumption, The Volante focuses on businesses contributing to underage drinking at the University of South Dakota.
Out of the 42 local bars and alcohol vendors in Vermillion inspected last year by the Vermillion Police Department, 13 of them failed compliance checks.
Hilary Wells, a senior at the University of South Dakota, is no stranger to the drinking scene in Vermillion, as she is a bartender at Maya Jane’s bar downtown.
She said underage drinking at her workplace has never really been an issue for her, but she knows it does occasionally happen.
“We have a door guy that cards everyone that comes in, so I’ve never had to deal with it,” Wells said.
Wells said anyone who is a minor caught with a fake I.D. is immediately thrown out. The event of a minor drinking at Maya Jane’s is rare since it is so hard to get in unnoticed.
The VPD does occasionally do compliance checks known as “walk throughs,” Wells added. During these walk throughs the police come into the bar and check anyone who looks underage for their I.D.s
“I’ve never seen an issue with it before,” Wells said.
Tiffany Herdlicka, a supervisor at the Old Lumber Company Grill and Bar, said underage drinkers have a very hard time getting in.
On Friday and Saturday nights the bar has a bouncer to check I.D.s. She said underage drinkers usually stay away.
“It’s a rare occasion to catch a minor,” she said.
If a minor is caught at the Old Lumber Company Grill and Bar they are immediately thrown off the premises and their fake I.D. is confiscated.
Jon Robertson, the owner of Howlers said it could be hard for young bartenders to know if someone is under the age of 21 when serving them.
“Most of my staff are young, so when they’re serving other young people that look like them it’s sometimes difficult for them to tell,” he said.
Regarding compliance checks, Robertson said Howlers passed their most recent compliance check six weeks ago, but said the year is still young.
“The school year is still brand new, so there’s new people coming into town and I’m sure there are rumors about where to go if you don’t want to get carded,” Robertson said.
Robertson said after most football games, Howlers sees a lot of traffic so the bar usually has a bouncer to check I.D.s. With Dakota Days coming up in the next few weeks, Howlers expects to get a lot of foot traffic.
“It will get harder to I.D. people during D-Days especially that Saturday so we’ll be identifying people as they come in and giving them wristbands,” Robertson said.