Jalapenos owner seeks change in alcohol serving law

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Did you know that, in Alabama, servers in restaurants who are younger than 21 can’t walk an alcoholic beverage from the bar to a table? That makes little sense for restaurants with dwindling staff numbers, and Jalapenos Mexican Grill owner Jheovanny Gomez is working with a state legislator to get that rule changed.

House Bill 176 would allow workers as young as 18 to serve alcoholic beverages in restaurants. That does not include bartending duties, which require someone of legal drinking age.

“This bill is not only going to allow us to reach from a bigger pool of employees, but it is also going to allow us to retain those employees that are already here,” Gomez said.

This bill is supported by Gomez and Alabama Rep. Kyle South, who represents House District 16 covering Fayette County and a portion of Tuscaloosa County.

Gomez said this bill would be a game-changer for his business and Alabama’s hospitality industry as a whole.

“As a neighborhood restaurant, we rely a lot on our kids who are 15, 16, and 17 that we hire to be a hostess, dishwashers and bussers,” Gomez said. “By the time they are 18 years old and graduating high school, they are falling in love with the restaurant industry and they want to wait tables, they want to make more money. They see what the waiters are making but unfortunately they can’t do that, then they are forced out of our industry.”

With the new bill, Gomez said he’d be able to retain his workers past the age of 18 because they’ll be capable of waiting tables in his restaurant, where alcohol is commonly served.

If the bill passes the Alabama House and Senate, it will head to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.