St. Louis bar: 35 and older only, please
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Look around the Zodiac Lounge in north St. Louis and chances are you won’t see any 20-somethings. The bar, situated between an environmental Superfund site and an Aldi supermarket, seeks a decidedly older clientele.
And it makes no bones about it: A sign on the front door requests that customers be at least 35 years old.
Manager Nathaniel Chunn, 69, says he put up the age-limit sign about five years ago. He says he wanted to, as he put it, “maintain the integrity” of the lounge. Those who run the bar say the average age of patrons is about 70, mostly people who prefer to sit and talk about the past.
Rosemary Turner, 75, bought the Zodiac in the 1980s, and can often be found during the day sitting near the end of the 26-foot-long bar, sipping a glass of water. She doesn’t drink alcohol.
“After 30 years, I am still here, trying to get rich,” joked Turner, wearing black onyx earrings and a zebra-print sweater.
Treating people right has helped the Zodiac stay open, Turner said. Her reward has been a core group of customers.
Postal worker Ennis Hinton, 62, showed off his scar from heart surgery. Bar staff greeted him and his healthy recovery with hugs and handshakes.
Hinton said he liked the relaxed environment and people. “Plus,” he said, “we don’t need a metal detector.”
St. Louis police report just one disturbance call at the address in the past two years, and that incident wasn’t enough to generate an official report. This despite the fact that the bar sits in a high-crime area.
Ness Sandoval, an urban sociologist and demographer at Saint Louis University, said bars in distressed neighborhoods in New York and Washington, D.C., have also increased minimum drinking ages.
“The functions of social controls are broken, so now it belongs to individuals to try to impose it by themselves,” he said. “People are trying to do something. It may be small, but they are trying to address drinking among people and how it impacts safety in public spaces.”
Kenya Frye, 41, was at the Zodiac recently with friends.
“In a younger crowd, there’s too much fighting,” Frye said. “We’d rather go where it’s older. It’s a different atmosphere.”
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