October 28 2014

Five Restaurants Cited for Serving to a Minor During Sting

By: Rich Hosford

Representatives from five Burlington businesses were called before the Board of Selectmen on Monday night after employees failed an alcohol compliance sting in September. 


Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent told the board that on September 30th, the police department held a compliance check at the 36 established licensed to serve alcohol. The police used 17 and 18 year-old minors who entered restaurants and attempted to purchase alcohol. 


Kent said five businesses, The Bancroft, Besitos Mexican Restaurant, Burtons Grill, the Hilton Garden Inn and Seasons 52 all failed the compliance check during the sting. 


Representatives from all but Burtons Grill said they did not contest the allegation from the police department. An attorney for Burtons Grill, however, said the manager of the restaurant is not sure an actual sale of alcohol was made by the bartender. 


The attorney said the manager spoke with the bartender, who did receive an order from the youth and did fail to check for identification, but also said the youth left before the beer was served. The attorney said that no money was collected and nothing was rung up in the register. 


Town Manager John Petrin asked why this was not brought up in the pre-meeting he had with each of the restaurant’s representatives. The attorney said that the manager was unaware of the details until that day and did not know the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission requires “sale and delivery” of the beverage during a sting. 


“We’re not contesting someone asked for a beer and no ID was asked for,” he said. “He just doesn’t think it was actually delivered. We’re not trying to cause a problem for the board.” 


Petrin said that since the issue was raised, the board must acknowledge it and act accordingly. 


Per the town’s regulations, The Bancroft, Besitos Mexican Restaurant, the Hilton Garden Inn and Seasons 52 will have a one-day suspension of their alcohol licenses on Monday, November 3. Burtons Grill representatives will need to come back before the board during the November 17th meeting after Chief Kent gets additional information from the department members who conducted the sting. 


Members of the board expressed their displeasure at having five restaurants, some of which are new in town, failing the compliance check. 


“We are all, members of board and town administrator, concerned with what happened on September 30th,” Selectman Ralph Patuto said. “From my point of view these problems start at the top. They are responsible. Maybe employees are not trained properly or don’t understand what was going on.” 


“I’m really disappointed with the new establishments, that this happened so quickly,” Patuto added. “We take alcohol and minors very seriously in this town.”


Vice Chair Daniel Grattan, who was acting as chair since Chairman Bob Hogan was not in attendance, was also upset. 


“We don’t want to see you here, it’s that simple,” he said. “It’s a serious situation and getting worse.” 


Petrin said that in the last year and a half there have been nine different violations. He added that the police department currently does two checks per year. 


“With only three checks in that time, we consider this fairly significant.” 


Petrin said the police department will begin to increase the number of compliance stings, possibly conducting another before the end of the year. The board also discussed the possibility of changing the liquor law policy to make the penalty for the first offense more severe, something that will first be discussed in subcommittee. 

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