The issue of underage drinking has long plagued the nightclub industry. Fake I.D’s, personal favors and over crowding have made underage club-goers hard to stop and a nightmare for owners. Florina Kachka, owner of Amsterdam Lounge, has become all too familiar with the repercussions of underage drinking: a seventeen year-old girl suffered alcohol poisoning while at her lounge. In recent articles many blame the owners for allowing these underage people into their bars and clubs, but Amsterdam is unique, and should be taken into personal consideration instead of thrown on top of a statistic pile.
What makes Amsterdam different is that it is a hookah lounge. Hookah is a flavored tobacco that can be legally smoked at the age of eighteen. So to see an eighteen year old at Amsterdam is not unusual. As the hours pass the lounge then draws in older crowds, who gather around the bar and dance floor looking for a good time. The mix of the twenty-one plus crowd with the eighteen crowds almost always leads to a sticky situation. A situation that many club owners face, and as a new comer Amsterdam Lounge is learning how to handle.
I’d like to stop here and take a moment to point out that I am not an advocate for club owners; I do not think they are without fault or blame. But to place all of the blame on one person while dealing with such a big issue seems foolish. If we are going to point fingers than first we should start with the underage people who sneak into these clubs. Their actions cause a ripple affect that goes further than they know. This may be a night out for them but this is someone’s business and as such it deserves as much respect as if you were to walk into someone’s home.
Recently Amsterdam suffered the loss of their liquor license for ten days due to alcohol being outside of the lounge. A then self-inflicted liquor suspension was set in place by the owners themselves in order to construct renovations to support their usual capacity. Clearly the owners are trying to improve their business and avoid any further conflict. A recent article by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette commented on the trouble facing the lounge. The article calls attention to the seventeen-year-old woman who suffered alcohol poisoning. The article, however, fails to mention that the woman was not drinking at Amsterdam, she simply happened to be there when she collapsed. The young woman also had X’s on her hands, which prohibits her from even holding an alcoholic beverage. The fact that this young lady was seventeen is one of the slips made by many bar owners. Bouncers are often crowded at the door, letting groups of young ladies in without checking all I.D’s. This is common in a lot of bars not just Amsterdam. Florina Kachka looks confused as she questions, “The 17 year old girl makes us sound like minor murderers. She even came to the Licensing Commission saying that she did not remember drinking at Amsterdam. If the reporter was there why didn’t he write this?” But the fact remains that the lounge is being held as a sacrificial lamb, something to be made an example of. This is both unfair, and unreasonable that Amsterdam is being bombarded with numerous accusations, while the abundance of nightclubs in Worcester, with far bigger issues, are left to resume business as usual.
The Telegram article is extremely misleading, it claims gang violence inside the lounge. Okay, this is a nightclub there are going to be fights but the idea of gang violence at Amsterdam is laughable to all who go there. Kachka’s reaction after reading the article was one any business owner would have. She says, “This article is very biased. We, (Amsterdam), are trying to open as a lunch place, and I know that it will affect business. I don’t really understand why the Telegram Gazette is trying to hurt new businesses in the city. I believe the article would still be a good and interesting read even if both sides of the story were told.” Facts are often being left out when talking about this case. Truth be told these young businesses are bringing life back to what was deemed a dead part of Worcester. This long time coming revival is now being stumped by fearful individuals who would rather keep things the way they are than see Worcester change and grow.