Club that allowed minors to drink alcohol is fined

City liquor board levies penalty of $2,500 against Iguana Cantina


News from around the Baltimore region

August 26, 2005|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners fined a popular downtown nightclub $2,500 yesterday for permitting underage patrons to consume alcoholic beverages on its premises on two occasions in recent months.

Liquor board members said that even though staff members at Iguana Cantina had taken measures to ensure that underage patrons did not drink - including checking identification cards and making them use different colored cups - there was evidence that some had managed to drink at the club, a popular hangout for college-age people.

"I was not happy with the way the night went," said club security manager David Adams, referring to the night of May 5 when some members of a large group from Howard County drank alcoholic beverages at the club despite the fact that they were not 21 years of age.

Adams and his wife, Iguana Cantina licensee Cheryl Adams, said they will appeal the decision.

Their attorneys, Arthur Frank and James Temple Jr., argued that the club did not violate the law because the youths were not served drinks, but rather drank out of other people's cups or had older friends get them drinks from the bar.

But that was not good enough for the newly reconstituted liquor board, which has vowed to crack down on underage drinking in the city. During the three-hour hearing, Commissioner Edward Smith Jr. scolded several youths for drinking. More than 20 youths were summoned to appear, but only a handful showed up, a few with their parents.

"Don't come back into our city and drink underage," Smith told one young woman who giggled during the session. Smith added that if he ever saw the woman again in a Baltimore bar before she turned 21, he would have her arrested.

The young woman was one of 23 Howard County youths who rented a bus to take them to Iguana Cantina on May 5. Early on the morning of May 6, police responded to a 911 call from the bus after one of the youths became sick.

When police smelled alcohol, they asked if the youths had been drinking. The youths said they had been at the Iguana Cantina. Twelve of the 23 youths, most of them from River Hill High School, were cited for possession of alcohol.

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