Three Reading businesses that sell liquor received penalties Tuesday for selling to a minor under age 21.
The Board of Selectmen imposed no-liquor sales times at The Wine Shop of Reading (Reading Fine Wines, LLC) at 676 Main St., the Wine Bunker (CW1 Ltd.) at 1 General Way and Sam’s Bistro (Bistro Concepts, Inc.) at 107 Main St.
The Wine Shop’s liquor license will be suspended for five days: this coming Monday, through Wednesday, Oct. 22, 23 and 24 and this coming Jan. 7 and 8. The Wine Shop received a three-day suspension in 2011, the selectmen noted, about a year ago.
The Wine Bunker cannot sell alcohol for three days: this coming Sunday, Oct 21 through Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Sam’s Bistro cannot sell alcohol this coming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 22 through Oct. 24.
These three businesses sold alcohol to a minor during alcohol compliance checks last month, by the Reading Police Department. Sgt. Mark Segalla presented the reports on each incident.
None of the three business owners contested the finding. The owners said they were embarrassed, apologetic and angry that one of their employees sold liquor to a minor.
The selectmen imposed the alcohol restriction after discussing possible dates with each business owner. Robert Carp from the Wine Shop asked the selectmen to impose the penalty in the New Year, rather than this month or November or December, which he described as the store’s busiest months. Carp told the selectmen that he is in the process of selling the shop because of his ill health. The selectmen split the penalty, three days this month and two in January.
Over the past five years, an effort spearheaded by Reading police and town and school leaders, working with (the) Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse, has worked “to improve local liquor policy responsible beverage service education, training, and alcohol enforcement,” according to the police department.
“These efforts led to improvements in our local compliance rate.”
“Communities like Reading that have reduced the availability of alcohol to underage drinkers have experienced fewer crashes and fewer crimes.” The Reading Police Department will continue to monitor local liquor establishments.
The Board of Selectmen developed penalty guidelines: for a first offense, a warning to a three-day suspension, for example, and a three to six-day suspension for a second offense.
The votes on all of the penalties: 3-0. Selectmen Stephen Goldy, Ben Tafoya and Richard Schubert all voted yes.
The board hates to do this, Goldy said, but “The message is key.”
Nineteen liquor-selling establishments were found to be “100 percent compliant” during the compliance checks, according to the police department.
They are: American Legion Post 62; Bangkok Spice Thai Restaurant; Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant; Busa’s Reading Liquors; Café Capri; Chili’s Grill and Bar; Fuddruckers; Grumpy Doyle’s; the Knights of Columbus; Longhorn Steak House; Mandarin Reading Restaurant; Meadow Brook Golf Club; Northside Liquors; Oye’s Restaurant; Reading Overseas Veterans; Ristorante Pavarotti; Romano’s Macaroni Grill; Square Liquors and Venetian Moon Restaurant.
Last year, 25 percent of the town’s liquor-selling establishments failed the compliance check, according to Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner.
Funding for this year’s compliance checks came, according to the police department, from a 2012 Underage Alcohol Enforcement Grant Program from the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.