Booster Bar & Grill’s Liquor Violations Result In 5-Day License Suspension
By: Mary Stanley
Booster Bar & Grill on Route 130 in Forestdale will have its liquor license suspended for five days from Monday, February 27 though Friday, March 2. And it is a penalty that owner of the establishment Stephanie Celata said she can live with.
"I am very grateful to the selectmen for modifying the term of the penalty," Ms. Celata said.
Two disciplinary hearings were held last night surrounding two separate incidents involving the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
Though the board could have imposed a stiffer penalty, as many as 12 days, selectman James W. Pierce suggested something a bit more lenient—a five day suspension for each violation with the penalty to be served at the same time.
Initially, Ms. Celata broke down crying, believing that the suspension was for a total of ten days.
"This is going to shut down my business," she whispered to her employee, Kristen Alexander, a bartender who testified at the disciplinary hearing.
The first disciplinary hearing involved an incident that occurred on December 3, 2011 when a customer at the restaurant called police at 11 PM expressing concern about her friend who was intoxicated and attempting to drive his truck home.
Patrol officer Timothy Kane testified that when he arrived on the scene, the man was leaning up against his truck, unable to stand. Sergeant Joseph M. Cotter testified that the man's "eyes were dilated and there was a strong odor of alcohol. We had to help him walk to the cruiser to prevent him from falling. He was drunk," Sergeant Cotter said.
Though Ms. Celata stated that the bartender had only served the man two beers over a 90 minute period, selectman questioned how an individual could become so intoxicated so quickly.
"He went from having no signs of intoxication to falling down drunk after two beers?" board chairman Frank Pannorfi asked.
Selectman Ralph A. Vitacco questioned why the man’s friend was able to assess him as being intoxicated but the bartender was not.
Ms. Celata said when the bartender observed the man to be intoxicated, he stopped serving him. She told the board that she and her employees take the liquor laws very seriously.
"I'm sorry that this all came down to this," she said.
The second public hearing involved an incident which occurred the following night on December 4, when an intoxicated man crashed his vehicle into a tree on nearby Greenville Drive at 11:53 PM after leaving Booster Bar & Grill. The driver then fled. Police tracked the driver, Andrew Doucet, 26, and found him hiding behind a shed at a home on Shagbark Road. Patrol Officer Daniel J. Perkins testified that when he located Mr. Doucet, he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.
Patrol officer David Dwyer testified that Mr. Doucet's girlfriend told him that when she arrived at Booster Bar & Grill at approximately 11 PM that night, she saw a Booster receipt for five Coors Light beers and that the receipt indicated the man had been there since 8:30 PM. The witness also told him that though the bartender refused to serve her boyfriend any more alcohol, she ultimately agreed to sell him one more beer if he agreed to let his girlfriend drive him home.
But Ms. Celata's bartender Kristen Alexander said that statement was incorrect. Ms. Alexander said she served the man four beers over a 3 1/2 hour time period and then shut him off. She said she never agreed to serve him another beer if he agreed to accept a ride from his girlfriend. She further stated that the receipt included a meal as well as drinks that he bought for other people and that the receipt would not have been on the bar when the man's girlfriend walked in since she does not close out a sale until she is done serving a customer.
Ms. Celata was also accused of violating the liquor license laws for refusing to provide documents and receipts to police. Sergeant Cotter testified that he asked Ms. Celata several times to produce receipts and other documents pertaining to the business conducted on December 3 and 4 and both times, Ms. Celata refused.
Ms. Grundman pointed out that the board was being lenient in its punishment, especially in light of a past license violation. Booster Bar & Grill has had its license suspended for two days in 2009, after a public hearing on an incident involving selling alcohol after business hours.
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