Aberdeen eatery fined, liquor license suspended five days

The liquor license at Grumpy's Bar & Grille, at the Travelodge in Aberdeen, will be suspended for five days after a bartender was found drinking on the job in January, members of the Harford County Liquor Control Board decided Wednesday.

The restaurant's operator also was fined $2,500 for that violation and for selling liquor to a minor during a compliance sting conducted by liquor board just a week earlier.

Grumpy's license will be suspended from March 18 to 22, right after St. Patrick's Day, the board decided.

Two Maryland State Police troopers stopped by Grumpy's, in the 800 block of West Bel Air Avenue, on Jan. 31 in response to complaints about employees there drinking while on duty, according to a liquor board violation report.

During the troopers' inspection, the bartender was seen giving two glasses of wine to a server, as well as drinking two shots of alcohol and a draft beer himself, between 10:52 p.m. and 11:25 p.m., according to the report.

A short time later, county liquor inspector Charlie Robbins entered Grumpy's and asked to speak with the licensees or manager.

The bartender, who identified himself as the manager on duty that night, clearly had alcohol on his breath, according to the report.

Grumpy's manager, Vickie Keithley, had no excuses for the board during the show-cause hearing the liquor board conducted Wednesday.

"There's no one more embarrassed than I am," Keithley told the board..

In reference to Jan. 23 case where a Grumpy's server also sold beer to an underage cadet, Keithley said she is always telling employees to ask for identification.

She suggested the only way to stop employees from continuing to make such violations is to hold them personally responsible, rather than the owners.

"I don't know what else to do," she said.

Board member Vernon Gauss said some jurisdictions, such as Cecil County, target the servers, but Gauss said that would mean passing a new law in Harford.

Board member Thomas Fidler Jr. said he believed Grumpy's management had "a level of complacency," and the incident with the employees drinking on duty was a sign.

"I take it to heart that someone took it upon themselves to complain. It's that bad," he said.

Keithley, however, said she found the anonymous report "very, very disheartening" and said she "feels it was someone disgruntled with us."

After the hearing, Fidler noted Grumpy's had two violations within eight days.

"This really concerns me," he said. "I believe Ms. Keithley has tried her best. I believe in some way she has lost a little bit of control of her staff."

He also said he hated to think what could have happened if the employee had not been caught.

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