Restaurant's penalty is lessened by liquor board

June 15, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Previous cooperation with the Carroll County liquor board helped mitigate the penalty that Tully's in Westminster received yesterday for serving alcohol to a minor.

Board members initially suspended the restaurant's liquor license for three days and fined the owners $500 for serving a Coors light beer to a Maryland State Police cadet in mid-March.

However, the board set aside the license suspension because Tully's owners had no previous offenses in their five years of operation and had turned in nearly 400 fake IDs teen-agers used to try to obtain alcohol.

"I know how often you turn in fake IDs, and that went a lot in your favor for lifting the suspension," said Russell Mayer, liquor board chairman. "I want you to continue to do that."

The violation occurred about 8 p.m. March 29, when police cadet Brian Alford Pearre was sent into Tully's to try to purchase a beer, said James Norvell, liquor board administrator.

Board members were investigating a March 14 complaint from a Woodbine woman that her 20-year-old son and his 19-year-old friend had been served alcohol at the restaurant without being carded, Mr. Norvell said.

Brian Pearre, who is 18, told the board that when he tried to enter Tully's, the bouncer checked his driver's license and asked him if he knew he wouldn't be allowed to drink.

The cadet said he told the bouncer, later identified as Michael Turner of Manchester, he understood that and headed to the bathroom to divert his attention.

Brian Pearre then went to the bar, ordered the beer and was served by Eric Martucci of Finksburg, the restaurant's bar manager.

"I was serving a customer and happened to look up when he entered," Mr. Martucci testified later. "I didn't hear what transpired, but I saw him [Mr. Turner] take his ID, give it back to him and not stamp his hand.

"The only reason I paid attention was that he [the cadet] looked a little young to me."

Mr. Turner had told the board that the policy at that time was for bouncers to mark the hands of minors. A line at the door distracted him and he neglected to stamp Brian Pearre's hand, he said.

As a result of the incident, the restaurant's policy has been changed to stamp the hands of customers who are old enough to consume alcohol legally, said Duane A. Coppeler, part-owner of Tully's.

Bartenders and servers will have the responsibility to re-check the IDs of patrons suspected to be minors, he said.

"Any front-of-the-house employee is instructed to card people if there is a question about their age," said Mr. Coppeler, 48.

Bouncers begin checking IDs at 7:30 p.m. and try to discourage minors from entering the restaurant after 9 p.m., he said.

"We try to locate them where the doorman can see them and let all the servers know there is a minor in the restaurant," said Mr. Coppeler. "We will allow a minor in with a parent, but not two minors."

Charles M. Preston, Mr. Coppeler's attorney, said the restaurant owners shied away from banning all minors after 9 p.m. because of concerns about discrimination.

Because of the liquor board's action, the suspension and fine against Tully's will be on its record, but the establishment will not have to halt liquor sales for three days.

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