WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Finding enough workers continues to be a challenge for the bar and restaurant industry.
A new state law allowing 17-year-olds to serve alcohol could provide some relief.
The law, which went into effect in June, has several requirements before 17-year-olds can take on the role.
Scott Ellis, the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said the association is already hearing positive feedback from its members.
“We have actually received a few calls double checking on it. Making sure that they were ready to go and that they were going to implement this and that they were very thankful because they are so short staffed,” Ellis said.
He said the industry is still working to get back on its feet.
“All of our members have raised their pay for their servers and continue to raise and do different incentives but the industry is still struggling to come back and get people into the retail world,” Ellis said.
There are requirements before 17-year-olds can serve alcohol and they can only provide this service at locations licensed for consumption on-site.
“They must be server trained in a state-certified alcohol server training program similar to Techniques of Alcohol Management. They also have to have an 18-year-old or older that is supervising and working at the same time. The 17-year-old is not there by themselves,” Ellis said.
Tommy Brann, the owner of Brann’s Steakhouse in Wyoming who is also a Republican state representative, said they do not have 17-year-olds who are serving yet but would be open to it in the future.
“If an 18-year-old can do it, a 17-year-old can do it, so yes, as long as they have people over them, which they will,” Brann said.
Brann says the restaurants are still working to recover and are dealing with higher food costs and the impact of inflation.
“Sadly the business is not like it used to be because of 9.8% inflation in Michigan. People can’t afford to eat out,” Brann said.
Even with the with challenges, there are some good signs.
“I will say the staffing shortage is still there but the more, every week and every month I talk to my members it’s getting better,” Ellis said.