Five businesses in the Route 40 area were each fined $1,000 Wednesday after being found by the Harford County Liquor Control board to have sold alcohol to a minor.
Good Time Liquors in Joppa, Riverside Pizzeria in Belcamp, Northside Liquors in Aberdeen, Winters Run Inn in Joppa and Steel Horse Pit Beef in Aberdeen were all caught selling beer to an 18-year-old police cadet during a Jan. 23 liquor board sting operation.
Licensees from all five businesses apologized to liquor board members and admitted the violations.
They were among 13 Harford businesses that failed the January compliance test, which board members called "shocking."
Amrita Singh, of Good Time Liquors, said the business had been robbed days earlier and the cashier was on edge when the cadet walked in.
She said she has two teenage daughters and would never want them to be sold alcohol.
She said she tells her staff constantly about the importance of checking IDs for proof of age.
"We are absolutely devastated," Singh said, noting the business has submitted many fake IDs to the board in the past. "This is not a typical circumstance for me at all... There is no excuse for it, but this is not something that we practice."
Steven Melocik, of Winters Run Inn, said the waitress does not want to return because she is so embarrassed by the incident.
He also said, however, the restaurant's bigger problem is parents who want their underage children to be served alcohol.
"Our biggest problem with minors is parents that bring their kids in and want us to serve them," Melocik said.
Inspector Charlie Robbins said the owners of Buontempo Brothers Restaurant said they have long had that problem.
He said one family at Buontempo told a server about their child: "It's her 18th birthday. We are just having a glass of champagne."
Buontempo rightly turned down the request, Robbins said.
Board chairwoman Sandi Tunney exclaimed: "Holy moly."
New 'concept' for Bill Bateman's
Bill Bateman's restaurant in Bel Air, which announced last month it would temporarily shut down, hopes to make a comeback with a new "concept," liquor board administrator Judith Powell said.
The restaurant's Scott Lukas "has decided to bring on an investor to the corporation and change concepts," Powell told the board.
She said he also plans to do some light remodeling work and is working to secure funding for the plans that are being made.
Lukas will then submit plans to the health department, she said.