Happy hour is due to make a comeback in Illinois, after the practice of hour-based alcoholic drink discounts was outlawed in the 1980’s due to concerns of excessive binge-drinking, and driving-under-the-influence.
Since the governor signed the bill on Wednesday, St Nicholas Brewing Co. in DuQuoin Illinois has been busy preparing a detailed schedule.
“We plan to have specials almost every day of the week” explained brewery operator Katie Ancell on Saturday, “This is a move that says to us that the lawmakers in Springfield see the importance of the small business.”
When he signed the bill, the governor stated some of his reasons were related potential tax revenues that the state could receive with even a slight bump in alcohol sales.
However, some groups like “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” have stood firm in their stance against the policy. MADD currently supports a national ban on ‘happy hour’ specials.
In Carbondale, many have come to know a man named Winston Mezo over the years, who sells bagels on a busy corner near a cluster of bars in Carbondale.
Mezo referred to himself as a “recovering alcoholic” on Saturday as he reflected on the days before Happy Hour was outlawed in Illinois.
“If you wanted to get drunk, cheap, you’ll be there.” Mezo explained, “You could buy a drink for a quarter; a mug of beer for a quarter… but they outlawed that because people would go in there like me for example, and drink as much as I could for a few bucks and get so sloppy drunk… I’d cause a lot of problems after 6 o’clock.”
When he’s not selling bagels, Mezo keeps busy by volunteering for Carbondale’s chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I’ve been sober since about ‘83.” He explained, “Today, because I believe in a higher power, and because I take it one day at a time, I can say no to things like happy hour. And that’s how it is.”
“It feels like if people are gonna drink to excess, they’re gonna do it whether a beer’s a dollar off or not.” Explained St. Nicholas Brewing Co. customer Eric Siefert, “and it seems like the merchants get something more out of it than you maybe get by restricting alcohol flow by a dollar.”
People aren’t gonna be encouraged to be getting smashed,” Brewery operator Katie Ancell explained, “we’re trained to look for signs that people have had too much to drink… so we’re not really concerned with the safety of it. We think it’s an opportunity to go out, have a few drinks, and save a few dollars.