Ocean City Today

Seven businesses reprimanded

By Brian Gilliland | Aug 24, 2017

(Aug. 25, 2017) Following a sweep of local businesses where police cadets tried to buy alcoholic beverages while providing inadequate or underage identification, seven Ocean City restaurants had hearings before the Board of License Commissioners on Aug. 16.

Most of the businesses walked away with letters of reprimand, which serve as the punishment for a first offense, without further action becoming necessary. If a business already has a letter in its file and should another violation be charged, the punishments can become more severe if the business is found to have done something inappropriate. The board can take a variety of actions based on the severity and frequency of offenses.

The most severe punishment was meted out to Flavors of Italy on the Boardwalk, since it was its third offense in the restaurant’s 17-year history. The business was ordered to pay $2,000 by 4 p.m. on Aug. 17, and the license was suspended for seven days, beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening. The restaurant had signs placed on site notifying customers of the suspension, and the fine was paid the next morning, April Payne, county liquor license administrator, confirmed.

The tensest moments in all of the hearings were between board Chairman Billy Esham and Crabcake Factory owner John Brooks, who said he had “no violations for a bartender,” while he did have a previous violation in 2010 for a server. That instance resulted in a fine and a letter of reprimand.

“I believe you were playing on words, and you’re hands-on enough as an owner that you knew there was a sale,” Esham said.

Taking that into account, and the fact that the Crabcake Factory had been checked at least five times since 2008 without an infraction, Esham recommended, and the board concurred, that only an additional letter of reprimand was necessary.

The Frog Bar, at the inlet, was issued a letter of reprimand after a manager provided beer to an undercover cadet. The Frog Bar had no previous violations.

The 64th Street Market also sold to a cadet, but had been tested many times in the past, according to Esham, and so a letter of reprimand was issued to the grocery store.

The Purple Moose Saloon also received its first letter of reprimand since at least 1975, after a barback filling in for regular employees served cadets even after reviewing their credentials.

Mother’s Tortilla Shop had the most elaborate training for its employees, including a scanner that would flash red if the subject were underage, and green if the identification is valid. Despite the employee using the scanner and checking the ID, according to testimony, the employee still sold alcohol to the cadet. Since there were no priors for this shop, or the adjacent Mother’s Cantina operated by the same people, a letter of reprimand was issued.

Finally, the Green House Café had a letter of reprimand issued after an employee served alcohol to an undercover cadet.

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