, Salem, MA

Local News

August 29, 2013

Two eateries caught in underage drinking sting

PEABODY — Enforcing the law can be tough on the enforcers.

A June 21 police sting will take a three-day bite out of Champion’s Pub on Foster Street after an employee was caught selling a Bud Light to an underage woman. It wasn’t the first lapse for Champion’s, which had a one-day suspension held in abeyance in 2011.

Nordstom’s Cafe Bistro fared a little better before the city’s Licensing Board on Monday, after getting caught up in the same sting. A drink was served to an underage person there, but because it was a first offense, they were given a warning.

Members of the board and Peabody police Lt. Thomas O’Keefe, who supervises the stings, expressed regret over the difficulties created for the establishments, but they acknowledged the need to impose discipline on businesses selling alcohol.

Former City Councilor Fred Murtagh, the newest member of the board said, “In this economy, I hate to close someone down. ... It’s easy to miss one if you get a guy who’s not paying attention.”

Chairman Minas Dakos expressed frustration that businesses, knowing that the stings will be coming to test them, aren’t more careful.

“It’s not easy, but we did have a violation in the past,” he said of Champion’s lapse.

For their part, Phil Mitchell and Kevin Houlden of Champion’s stressed that they took the problem so seriously that they fired the 10-year employee who made the mistake in serving the young woman. “That was a tough thing to do,” Mitchell said. He said that the establishment has become more of a family-style eatery in the past years and he is determined to prevent any more violations.

“I can’t have it,” he said.

Member Nancy Delaney noted that the usual punishment for a second offense is a three-day suspension. In this case, given that the previous one-day suspension was not imposed, it would be added in.

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