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Two Burlington Businesses Fail Alcohol Compliance Check

Two local businesses were given a one-day prohibition on alcohol sales following a police sting.

Two Burlington Businesses Fail Alcohol Compliance Check

Two Burlington businesses were in front of the Board of Selectmen on Monday night to face liquor license violations.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent and Sgt. Timothy McDonough were at the meeting to discuss the results of a resent alcohol compliance check done by the department. Kent said two Burlington businesses failed the compliance check. 

Kent said the alcohol compliance check was conducted on November 25, 2013 and police tested 32 businesses. An 18-year-old female entered each business and tried to purchase alcohol without showing identification. 

The two businesses that failed the compliance check were Olde Towne Liquors and Bickford's Grille. 

Kent said that at 5:55 p.m. the 18-year-old purchased a six pack of beer from a female employee at Olde Towne Liquors with $20 provided to her by police. Her identification was not checked. 

Owners Michael Toucopoulos and Nicholas Toucopoulus were at the meeting Monday night for a public hearing on the incident. Michael said the store takes alcohol compliance very seriously and the policy is to check the identification of anyone who looks to be 35 year or younger. 

"We take pride not only in our customer service but our staff’s professionalism and compliance in the proper sale of alcohol," he said. "The sale of alcohol is our livelihood. Unfortunately we are here tonight not because of a lack of training but lack of judgement. We have a zero tolerance policy [for compliance failure]." 

Michael added that the employee, who had worked for the company for seven years with no incidents, was let go following the incident. 

This was the business's first alcohol compliance failure and the policy for the first failure is a one-day prohibition on alcohol sales for the first Monday after the hearing. However, since next Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the board voted 4-0 to have the prohibition take place on Monday, Jan. 27. Selectman Ralph Patuto was not in attendance hence the four votes. 

Kent said that at 6:40 p.m. the 18-year-old entered Bickford's Grille, sat at the bar, and ordered a beer from a female employee. She was served without having her identification checked. 

Bickford's Grille general manager Henry Yee and manager Dereck Gagnon were also at the meeting to attend the hearing. Yee acknowledged the lapse and apologized to the board for the compliance check failure. 

"We also have zero tolerance policy, we check the identification for anyone under 35 years of age," he said. "We also do a review before every shift to ensure all employees check IDs. We cross train, we double check servers, we stay behind the bar and watch every table closely to ensure servers do check IDs."

Gagnon said the employee had also been let go following the compliance check failure. 

Town Administrator John Petrin also said that Yee was not the general manager of record. A woman who did not identify herself but was with the Bickford's group stated the restaurant is currently in the process of having Yee named the manager of record on the business's liquor license. The previous manager of record had been let go and the business had not updated its legal status in that regard. 

This was Bickford's Grille first alcohol compliance violation and the board also approved a prohibition of liquor sales on January 27. The restaurant will be able to remain open and sell food on that day. 

It was also made clear that the business must immediately update its liquor license to make Yee the manager of record to be in compliance with the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. 

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