As first reported in the Houston Chronicle , Kirby Ice House, at 3333 Eastside, has made an unusual decision. Even though the legal drinking age in Texas is 21, the bar’s new policy requires patrons to be 23 or older.
The announcement was made on the bar’s Facebook page, where it was met with a mix of compliments from older patrons and accusations of discrimination from younger ones. Some have questioned the legality of the policy.
It almost certainly is legal, though. The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination by private businesses based on “race, color, religion, or national origin.” Age discrimination is a topic covered by The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and protects people 40 and older from being denied employment or dealing with harassment based on age.
Neither of those apply to a private bar declaring an age limit for entry that is different from the age at which it's legal to drink. In fact, there’s at least one precedent. In 2013, Brooklyn bar Phil’s Crummy Corner raised its age restriction to 25 and up on weekend nights to combat an increasingly rowdy atmosphere.
The bar also does not allow children, and wrote in a comment on its Facebook announcement:
“Also, we do not allow infants or children because we want to maintain the quality of our customer's experience and also feel that our yard, which allows dogs, is not the best environment for a child."
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One patron applauded the “no children” policy, writing in response,
“I’m indifferent on the 21/23 issue but I do love the fact they never let in children. People with children can go to Canyon Creek, Cedar Creek or Cottonwood. It is nice to walk into a bar and patio and it not be like a day care which the 3 bars above seem to always be. It also baffles me as to why a parent would want to take an infant or child into a place where people are drinking, doing shots, and smoking. It is Kirby Ice House's decision whether they allow children in or not. You don't like that then don't go there. Frankly unless you're in a casino or strip club it is rare to be able to enjoy yourself and go somewhere during the daytime without screaming babies and children running around.”
We left messages for Kirby Ice House to find out what, exactly, led to their decision and will update this article if we receive a response.
Update, 6/2/2016, 8:54 a.m.: We were promised a statement from Kirby Ice House management about what exactly led them to this decision and never received one. We did, however, receive this from their event coordinator" “Inevitably, there will be issues at any bar with the guests that are just recently of drinking age. Unfortunately, many of them also bring younger friends that are not legal to drink and try to enter, which is a huge hassle for door persons trying to take care of our "of age" customers.”