The Issue Before the Bar

It may seem out of context, but Mr. Beery's of Bethpage is stocked with voter-registration forms. That's because owner Steve Beery is angry about a new state law banning all-you-can-drink deals and limiting drink specials; it's set to go into effect at the end of November. He thinks folks should take a stand, and he'll even foot the postage and mail in forms for customers.

"How dare the people that run our country dictate to me how I should serve my customers," Beery says. "There's already plenty of rules that we as tavern owners and bar people have to deal with, but somebody's got to stand up."

While it may be too late to do anything about this particular law, Beery believes that voting in general is important. Two elections ago, he says, he voted for George Pataki for governor. Now, he says, "I'm so sore about that," mainly because the guv signed the bill into law in July. In the last major election, Beery says, he voted for Al Lewis, Tom Leighton of the Marijuana Reform Party, Rep. Peter King and "anyone who was not doing anything that would hurt my business." Call him a single-issue guy. The veteran bar owner says he's not even sure why the change in law was needed—servers are already responsible by law for cutting off drunks. "You want to prevent binge drinking, you may as well just start Prohibition," he says.

How many patrons have registered to vote here in the last month? "Not a whole lot," Beery says. While a full-page advertisement ran saying that this beer drinkers' hangout would offer voter registration, there isn't one sign in the place mentioning it. Not that one posted next to the $3 dollar beer sign would sell every patron—even those who dropped serious cash on beer.

Last Friday, Sean Donnelly, 29, had been indulging for more than four hours at Mr. Beery's. While waiting for a cab to take him home to Elmont, he said he hadn't voted since he was 18—and wasn't about to. "I haven't voted for anyone since '88 and it's '99," said the apathetic one, who soups cars into hot rods for a living. "I don't give a fuck." So far, this new law wasn't going to cut one sip out of his beer-drinking action. "My local bar had buy-two-get-one free," he says. "Except for the locals like me, they had to give it up."


Mr. Beery's 4019 Hempstead Tpke, Bethpage, 516-731-9579.

 
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