Liquor board puts restriction on businesses selling alcohol

January 11, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

The Carroll County liquor board unanimously adopted three rule changes yesterday, including one that says businesses with liquor licenses must close unless an employee 21 or older is present.

The impetus for the change occurred last year when a 17-year-old employee of the Finksburg Pizza Hut was in charge when a fight erupted in the parking lot, liquor board Chairman Russell Mayer said.

Board members said they do not want underage employees left in charge of businesses selling alcohol.

"It's like leaving a crook in charge of a bank," member Romeo Valianti said.

Pizza Hut policy says if no employee is 21, no alcohol may be served, said Westminster attorney J. Brooks Leahy, who represents the restaurant. Alcohol sales are 2 percent to 3 percent of total sales at Pizza Hut, he said.

Mr. Leahy argued that it would be a burden on owners to close their restaurants.

"But what safeguards do we have?" asked board member John Buchheister Jr.

"What assurance do we have that no alcohol will be served?" Mr. Mayer asked.

The second change the board voted on concerned the percentage of food sales that a restaurant with a liquor license must maintain. The board did not change the required percentage, but deleted one provision and simplified the language.

Food sales must be at least 41 percent of average monthly sales in the year before an application to renew, upgrade or transfer a license. The board deleted a provision that allowed a restaurant with at least $10,000 in food sales per month to qualify for renewal.

Limiting the requirement to a percentage makes the provision more fair, Mr. Buchheister said.

The third rule change was required because of a change in federal law, board administrator James D. Norvell said.

Federal law now prohibits the county from requesting criminal background checks for people who apply for liquor licenses. The rule change says a person applying for a license must request a background check himself through the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

In other action yesterday, the liquor board voted 2-1 that the Mount Airy Pizza Hut violated liquor law by allowing an underage cashier to accept payment for alcohol.

The law says a person under 21 cannot accept payment for alcohol.

Mr. Buchheister voted that the restaurant did not violate the law because there was confusion about the specifics of it. The law should be clarified, he said.

The board imposed a $100 fine on William D. McKinney and Deborah Schulze, who hold the liquor license for the Mount Airy Pizza Hut, but suspended the fine.

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