SNOW HILL -- Clean records helped keep the total fines for alcohol sales to minors from the Board of License Commissioners (BLC) at only $1,000 this month, despite the fact that one location had two violations on the same night.
The first violation, which occurred at Beach House Restaurant and Footprints (Coconuts) in Ocean City, was not contested and the owners did not appear before the BLC to attempt to explain the incident. Instead, the board simply levied a $500 fine against the restaurant.
The next three violations, which occurred at two separate locations that are owned by the same company, did spark a brief, if effective, explanation.
The Paul Revere Smorgasbord in Ocean City, which is owned by John and Hale Harrison of the Harrison Group, failed to pass a cadet sweep by the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) earlier this summer. Attorney Joe Moore, who represented the Harrisons, made no excuse for the illegal sale but noted that Paul Revere has passed five previous police checks with no sale.
Mark Mayers, representing the Harrison Group, added that all of their businesses have been working with the OCPD in “ID training sessions” which educate servers on how to ask for and spot underage driver’s licenses.
Because this recent violation is only the second since the Harrison Group opened the restaurant in 1971, the BLC agreed to issue a letter of reprimand with no fine. However, OCPD Sgt. Doug Smith did make a point to clear the air over some allegations made by the server at Paul Revere that was caught selling alcohol to an underage cadet.
Smith informed the board that the server, who was not at the hearing, has filed two formal complaints against himself and the cadet, Sarah Lynch, claiming that Lynch was holding an empty beer can when she ordered her drink, which led the server to assume that Lynch had already been checked.
But Smith asserted that neither he nor his cadets resort to tricks to fool businesses into serving alcohol to minors.
“I don’t do that kind of stuff,” said Smith. “I’m by the book.”
The next two incidents, which occurred at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront Reflections in Ocean City, also owned by the Harrison Group, took place on the same night and involved sales to two separate underage cadets.
Moore again brought up the fact that the location had previously passed three police checks with no sales as mitigating evidence against the BLC levying a hefty fine. No prior violations at the location were mentioned.
Though owned by the same group as Paul Revere, Reflections is its own operating entity and was not held accountable for the violation at the smorgasbord business. The first violation elicited a letter of reprimand while the second produced a $500 fine.
In the incident report for the first Reflections violation, OCPD Cpl. Mark Wolinsky noted that the cadet was not carded when she approached the bar.
“[She] entered the pool bar area and attempted to buy an alcoholic beverage,” wrote Wolinsky. “Lynch went to the north bar. Cpl. Wolinsky then observed a bartender, later identified as Robert Bouse 3rd, approach PSA Lynch. PSA Lynch asked the bartender for a Twisted Ice Tea, a known alcoholic beverage. Bouse did not ask for identification and served PSA Lynch the drink in a plastic cup.”
Likewise, identification was not asked for in the second incident involving a different cadet.
BLC Chair William Esham warned the Harrisons that even though they were leaving the meeting relatively unscathed, he was worried by the pattern he noticed between the violations.
“In all three of these incidents, regardless of your efforts, your bartenders did not card,” he said.