, Salem, MA

December 19, 2013

Police liquor sting nabs three businesses


---- — DANVERS — Three liquor license establishments out of 48 in town failed a police compliance check late last month when they sold alcoholic beverages to an underage police operative, police Chief Neil Ouellette told selectmen Tuesday.

”Unfortunately, I’m a little troubled to report we had three instances of noncompliance where an underage operative was, in fact, served alcoholic beverages,” Ouellette said.

”Chief, I’m very disappointed,” said Selectman Dan Bennett. “Three violations in one night. We had been doing pretty good. I thought your sting, if you would call it that, was a good educational tool letting people know we were coming out to check, and we expect people to be compliant.”

Brutole Restaurant on Route 1, Merchants Liquor Mart on High Street and Hong Kong Cafe on Maple Street all face separate public hearings on Jan. 7 in which selectmen could suspend, revoke or take other action on their liquor licenses. Selectman Diane Langlais; Bennett, acting as chairman; and Selectman Bill Clark voted to hold the hearings.

Selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask and Selectman David Mills were not present. Mills was recuperating from a medical procedure, and Trask wound up stuck in traffic in Tuesday’s snowstorm.

All three establishments failed to pass the compliance check on Friday, Nov. 29, Ouellette said. The check is meant to enforce state laws against the sale of alcohol to a person under 21.

The compliance check came a little more than a week after two liquor establishments, Buffalo Wild Wings and Kappy’s, were hailed by selectmen for ferreting out fake IDs.

Shortly after selectmen applauded those moves, which were outside the town’s regular compliance checks, Ouellette told The Salem News: “The department will continue to conduct these checks in the foreseeable future.”

Late in the afternoon on the day of the compliance check, an underage person entered Merchants Liquor Mart, 88 High St., picked up a bottle of Jam Jar Shiraz red wine and took it to the register.

”She was sold that red wine without being asked for identification,and was given change for the monetary value at the register and received the wine in a brown paper bag,” Ouellette said.

At 5:15 p.m., the operative went to Brutole Restaurant, 65 Newbury St., and sat at a high-topped table in the bar area. She asked for a Bud Light and was served without being asked for her age or identification, police said.

At 5:39 p.m. at the Hong Kong Cafe, 12 Maple St., the bartender served the person a Bud Light without asking for an age or ID, Ouellette said.

In all three cases, police contacted the managers on duty after the alleged transactions took place.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.