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The story behind memberships 

Have you ever been denied entrance into a bar because you didn't have the right identification ... as in your membership card?

No, the bars aren't trying to be exclusive, and no, the bouncers aren't being douche bags. The Alcohol Law Enforcement is to blame for this nightlife nuisance.

They are stricter than a high school math teacher in regard to alcohol regulations, and in turn, nightlife venues that serve up the silly serum have to be equally as strict.

You see, in order to qualify as "a restaurant with the right to sell mixed beverages," (according to the ALE Web site) an establishment's alcohol profits vs. food profits have to be 70/30 -- where at least 30 percent of their total revenue is derived from food sales. Otherwise it's a private club and private clubs require memberships.

How do you become a member? Membership regulations vary bar to bar, which confuses me. Generally you fill out paperwork like you're applying for a credit card (but rather a cool kid card) and, in some cases, wait three days to get in. That is unless you're with someone who already has a membership then you're good to go.

Take Alley Cat for example. When they first opened they intended to operate as a restaurant (with the right to sell mixed beverages) by serving food from the Penguin and were thus issued a temporary liquor license. But when the alcohol is more expensive than the food, well, that presents a problem with the ratio. And to add insult to injury, according to an Alley Cat employee, the ALE yanked their license at the most inopportune time -- right before the Bret Michaels concert. Meanwhile, some clubs don't even bother trying to make the ratio. Can you imagine a menu at Suite? When they're selling hundreds of dollars worth of liquor bottles to VIPs, they'd have to serve jewel encrusted chicken.

I don't get these ALE strategies, but I do get that the bars are just doing their job and abiding by the law; so don't shoot (or shout at) the messenger. Some of the "members only" places I've received a membership card from include all the EpiCentre tenants, Selwyn Avenue Pub, Fairview Grill, Buckhead Saloon and The Thirsty Beaver Saloon. And you can even park for free at the garage on 5th and College behind Buckhead with your Buckhead membership card.

So let's all stop hating on the bars and bouncers, suck it up and fill out the paperwork, then simply stash your membership card with your ID and credit card when you go out. There -- crisis averted.

But I can't help but wonder: Why is it so hard for venues to make a mere 30 percent profit in food? Is Charlotte on a liquid diet?

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