EAST PROVIDENCE — It’s a record no one would want to break, least of all those charged, but nine local establishments and their employees were recently busted for serving alcohol to minors during the most recent under-age drinking sting conducted by the East Providence Police Department and the East Providence Prevention Coalition.
According to EPPD Community Police Sergeant John Andrews, that total exceeded any in the last four years of the program, which uses mostly 17 and 18-year-old youngsters to test the city’s publicly-accessed liquor stores, restaurants, clubs and bars. The sting, conducted in February and March of this year, encompassed 63 such establishments in East Providence.
“The liquor stores are the worst offenders because it starts with a kid buying a six pack,” Sgt. Andrews said. “The next time it’s a case. And then the next thing you know, the kid is buying a keg out of the place. It may sound far-fetched, but it happens. We see it all the time.”
Town Wine & Spirits, McGreen’s Liquors, Brookfield Liquors, Warren Avenue Liquor Mart and Riverside Liquors were the package stores caught in the sting. East Buffet, The Comedy Connection, East Providence House of Pizza and Gregg’s Restaurant were the eateries to be stung.
For East Buffet, located on Newport Avenue, it was the third time the restaurant has been cited during a sting. The Comedy Connection and Brookfield were cited for a second time.
Some of the establishments have been found guilty of charges for serving alcohol to minors in East Providence Municipal Court. The others have yet to come before Muni Court Judge George Furtado. (See details below.) Most fines for the employees range from community service time to a couple hundred dollars.
The business owners will also have to appear before the City Council for show-cause hearings beginning Tuesday night, May 21. In the case of multiple repeat offenders, especially the likes of the East Buffet, Sgt. Andrews said the Council could suspend a license to serve alcohol for a period of time or even shutter the business for upwards of 30 days.
The sergeant chalked up the negligence on the part of business owners and their staffs to lack of understanding of the law and proper service protocols.
“I think a lot of it has to do with training. Most of these employees haven’t been trained properly,” Sgt. Andrews added. “The managers and the owners, at least, should have some type of training. It’s not mandatory, but maybe it’s something we need to look at.”
The EPPD and EPPC annually run an educational program called the “21 Proof” Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) curriculum. According to its literature, 21 Proof is an evidence based, state approved Responsible Beverage Service training for anyone who serves alcoholic beverages in a pouring establishment. All staff including wait staff, door personnel, valet staff and owners/mangers must be RBS Certified through a four-hour training, and re-certified every three years, according to R.I. state law.
For more information on the next scheduled RBS training sessions contact the EPPC at 401-435-7516.
The following is a list of those businesses and employees caught up in the sting:
WINTER/SPRING ALCOHOL COMPLIANCE CHECKS MUNICIPAL FINES
Establishment: Name of Server, Fine Imposed
- Brookfield Liquors: Edward Burkhardt$250 (includes court costs)
- EP House of Pizza: Erica Moniz, Pending Disposition, Community Service and reappear in six months to see what fine will be if they have any further violations
- McGreen’s Liquors: Chelsea Galvin, Pending Disposition, Community Service and reappear in six months to see what fine will be if they have any further violations
- Gregg’s Restaurant: Matthew Skodras, $200 (includes court costs)
- Comedy Connection: Lauren Oliveira, Not yet heard in Municipal Court yet. Scheduled for May 16.
- Warren Ave Liquor Mart: Joshua Peno, $200 (includes court costs)
- Riverside Liquors: Chris Swindell, Pending disposition. Will return to Municipal Court on June 27.
- Town Wine & Spirits: Muriel Watson, $200 (includes court costs)
- East Buffet Restaurant: Kang Jin Zhu, $325 (includes court costs)