right to serve

Maine’s Food Code Discriminates Against Bartenders With Hairy Chests, Pits, Backs

So upset are patrons of Mainestreet bar in Ogunquit, Maine, they organized a protest after a health inspector told owner Norm Paquin he needed to have bartenders put their shirts back on, because pouring Jack Daniels without one is a “health hazard.” Well, depending on your body hair.

Some 60 white shirts tagged with “Yaffe’s Gaffe” — in reference to town resident Harriet Yaffe, who took issue with the bar’s bare chested guys — were going to be distributed for the rally cry.

In the meantime Code Enforcement Officer Paul Lempicki, who originally cited Mainestreet for the violation, is working with Town Manager Tom Fortier and the Department of Health and Human Services to see if it’s really a violation to have men’s nipples on display behind the bar. And if it isn’t? Fortier says he’ll issue a public apology to the bar.

But might the policy differ from one bartender to the next, depending on whether he’s hairy (and where the hair is)? Seacoast Online posits:

According to Article 2-402.11(B) in the state’s Food Code, counter staff at an establishment serving food are not required to wear hairnets, beard restraints, hats or clothing that covers body hair. All other employees who work around open food are required to cover up.

[Peggy Albert of HHS] said the counter exception does not apply to Mainestreet’s bartenders, however. “Bartenders are not counter staff,” she said. “They’re really prep staff. They pour open liquor. Because everything is open like that, he has to have some type of hair restraint. If he’s got a hairy chest, he’s got to wear a shirt.” She said if a bartender is hairless on his stomach, back, chest and armpits, then the issue becomes a “local decision.”

Sorry, bears, but it looks like laser hair removal is now a job requirement.

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