DANVERS — Selectmen have voted to hold three-day license suspensions in abeyance for a year for three businesses found serving or selling alcohol to minors during a compliance check in November.
But if Merchants Liquor Mart, Hong Kong Cafe or Brutole Restaurant is found in violation again in the next 12 months, that business will have to stop selling alcohol for three days.
The board’s decisions came during separate public hearings Tuesday night.
At Merchants, a 19-year-old working with police bought a bottle of red wine without being asked her age or for an ID, police Chief Neil Ouellette said. Police then spoke with the manager and the cashier about the compliance checks.
Owner Wayne Campbell took responsibility, apologized and said there was no excuse for what happened.
“We have an obligation to the community that this should never, ever occur,” Campbell said. The cashier no longer works at the store, and employees have since been instructed to ask for IDs from anyone who looks younger than 30 and to keep an eye out for young people or suspicious activity, he said.
“God forbid, even if this wasn’t a sting, and we sold to a minor and something happened, whether it was a driving incident, you would feel terrible, and that is what everyone here is trying to prevent.”
“I am very appreciative of the owner,” said Selectman David Mills, who echoed other board members’ appreciation for Campbell’s sincerity.
The alleged violation at the Hong Kong Cafe on Maple Street took place the same day, when the 19-year-old operative was served a Bud Light from a bartender who never asked for age or ID, Ouellette said.
A partner in the restaurant, John Ng, apologized and said the bartender will be retrained. He said there have been no violations at the establishment for 10 years. He told his partner, who manages the restaurant, that if he is sick, as he was that evening, he should close the bar.
“I expect another 10 years we will be clean,” Ng said.
At Brutole on Route 1, a minor working with police was allegedly served a Bud Light at the bar, Ouellette said.
Illias Kakouris, the chef and owner of Brutole, said his 15-year waiter is trained in serving alcohol, but he was caught off-guard due to a personal issue. Everyone is supposed to be carded, and the restaurant holds biweekly meetings on the subject of serving alcohol, he said.
“We haven’t had an occurrence in many, many years,” Kakouris said, “We’ve learned, no matter who you are, we card you.” He took full responsibility for what happened. “We do take this very serious,” Kakouris said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.