Boozing at Burgerville

In early February, the Burgerville chain opened their latest restaurant in Salmon Creek, Wash., where they’re thinking of trying something a little unorthodox.

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In early February, the Burgerville chain opened their latest restaurant in Salmon Creek, Wash., where they’re thinking of trying something a little unorthodox. OK, maybe incredibly unorthodox. They’ve applied for a license to serve beer and wine at this location, as a trial run for all 39 Burgerville locations to serve booze on their premises.

A group called Oregon Partnership has already been protesting Burgerville’s application to sell alcohol, primarily because of their concerns that this will lead to an increase in underage drinking.

While that’s certainly a valid concern, it hardly scratches the surface of the difficulties that will arise if the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages makes this unholy alliance with the popular Northwestern chain.

Many people get their first jobs working at fast food restaurants—not because it’s such an awesome job, with low wages, hot grease, ugly uniforms, having to “sell up” to a customer that is always right and no tips. People work in fast food restaurants because it is one of the few jobs available to those lacking an impressive resume. 

Well, if you’re under 18 you can scratch that job at Burgerville off your list of possibilities, too—once they sell alcoholic beverages on premises, employees will be required by law to be 18 or older.

Another concern is the employment above the age of 18 already in place. Will the remaining Burgerville employees be uncorking wine bottles and tapping kegs? Dealing with the additional belligerence, vomit and stupidity that inevitably accompany alcohol consumption all while only still making minimum wage, again with no tips? 

The Burgerville employees that might serve beer and wine to the customers, these are the people my heart really goes out to. Additional training and certification to allow them to serve alcohol is the least of their worries.

Suddenly their job will entail carding people, policing the dining area of the restaurant to make sure minors aren’t getting served, or people aren’t walking out with their booze—or leaving too drunk to drive safely. The liability will now be on Burgerville and its employees to make sure that things don’t get out of hand.

That being said, I’m not against drinking. There have been times in my life, long ago mind you, when I could easily have been considered a connoisseur of the beverages with high-alcohol content.

Nonetheless, when I get the chance to enjoy a good meal with friends, I have to agree that a glass of wine or two can really enhance the experience. When I imagine enjoying an adult beverage with my dinner, it doesn’t involve chugging the contents of a plastic cup, my main course wrapped in greasy paper while fluorescent lighting encourages a hasty retreat.

Fast food restaurants are typically designed in a fashion that is intended to get people in and out as quickly as possible. (I think that has something to do with the “fast” part.) A dining establishment that offers alcohol, while at the same time creating an atmosphere where people are encouraged to consume plentifully and quickly, basically condones drinking and driving.

Any place that serves alcohol faces many of these same challenges—would-be underage drinkers, people who drink and drive, belligerent jerks who have had one too many—these will not be issues exclusive to any beer-slinging Burgerville. But the whole structure of this kind of fast-food family restaurant, physically and logistically, wasn’t intended to address these problems.

Besides, let’s face it: Whether you drink to get plastered, or you are a connoisseur of fine wines and ales—do you really want to do it at Burgerville?