Four Harford County bars and restaurants were fined $1,000 each this week by the Liquor Control Board for failing a Nov. 3 compliance test by serving alcohol to an underage Maryland State Police cadet.
The businesses fined are Boxcar Restaurant, of Edgewood; Della Rose’s Local Tavern, of Bel Air; The Deck Crab House & Bar, of Edgewood; and Fallston Barrel House.
Representatives of each establishment appeared for show cause hearings Wednesday afternoon at the liquor board headquarters in Bel Air.
They were among eight out of 15 local businesses that failed the tests, which were conducted Nov. 3 by Inspector Louis Reichart and the Maryland State Police. The liquor board conducts the tests, involving an underage police cadet, several times a year.
Reichart did the Nov. 3 tests with State Police Sgt. Zi Shum, Trooper 1st Class Steven Pollack and cadet Evan Johnson, age 20, according to Reichart’s report.
During Wednesday’s hearings, each licensee took responsibility for failing the test and discussed measures that have been put in place to prevent another failure.
“I take full responsibility for this violation,” Brenda Galbraith, owner and licensee for The Deck, said. “I feel like I’ve let the board, the community, my staff and myself down for this violation.”
Johnson and Pollack entered The Deck shortly after 7 p.m. Nov. 3 and were seated at a table. The server, identified as Reilly Shook-Crawford, took their order. She did ask for Johnson’s identification, but she still served him a draft beer, according to Reichart’s report.
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“I don’t have any excuses as to why it happened,” she said. “I just wasn’t thinking.”
Galbraith, the owner, said she did not discipline Shook-Crawford, whom she described as “a very good employee,” and called the incident a “fluke.”
She said she had sent the majority of her employees to alcohol awareness training, and posters had been placed around the restaurant indicating that they do not serve alcohol to underage patrons — she said she even walks around singing that “[we] do not accept vertical ID.”
Maryland issues vertical drivers’ licenses to people younger than 21.
Galbraith said, since the incident, that electronic systems have been installed that show a person born before or on a particular date is 21 or older — anyone born after that date cannot be served.
Johnson and Pollack entered Boxcar shortly before 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, according to Reichart’s report. The server, manager and co-licensee Mary Kitt, served the cadet a bottle of beer without asking for his identification, according to the report.
Kitt told board members she had been sitting down and eating dinner with some friends when the testers arrived. She said her friends help her through the anniversary of her daughter’s death each November.
“We get together every year for dinner for my daughter’s passing,” she said.
Kitt said she is usually “very good” about checking patrons’ identification, but “on this particular night there were different circumstances.”
She said her server and manager were occupied with other duties when the testers came in, so “I just immediately got up to serve them so they wouldn’t be standing around.”
Kitt said she and her fellow restaurant operators now stress employees must ask every patron for ID, regardless of how old they appear.
Board chair C. John Sullivan Jr. recalled visiting a store while traveling on the Eastern Shore, where staff asked him for his identification and he was told the store had been found in violation for selling to an underage buyer, so “we ask everyone” for ID.
“It’s excellent policy, and its going to make your life a lot easier if you card everybody,” Sullivan said.
Johnson and Pollack were seated by one server who took their order, and a second server brought it to them at Della Rose’s Local Tavern, which they entered shortly after 10 p.m., according to the inspector’s report.
Johnson was served a draft beer, but neither server who waited on them asked for his identification, according to the report.
“I just want to apologize for that happening,” licensee Anthony Della Rose said. “I’m very embarrassed by it.”
He said the situation the night of the test had been “a little confusing,” as one server was taking off just as the other was coming on duty.
“Ultimately each server should have carded, and it’s 100 percent our fault and that’s not the type of place we want to be,” he said.
Della Rose said the staff recently went through alcohol awareness training.
“If someone were to serve underage, moving forward, they would no longer have a job,” he said of his warning to staff.
Fallston Barrel House
Johnson and Pollack entered Fallston Barrel House shortly after 5:30 p.m. The server did not ask the cadet for ID but served him a draft beer, according to the inspector’s report.
Licensee and owner Robert Diem said he and his fellow operators “thought that we had done everything possible to keep this from happening.”
Diem said the server is “one of our best employees” and was disciplined as a result of the incident.
“Most of our customers are in their 40s,” Diem said. “[Staff] know a lot of them, and I think that’s what caused them to put their guard down.”
Diem said staffers have since been told that they must card every customer, and failing to do so means suspension or losing their job.
Posters have also been put up showing vertical licenses and the current birth date for people 21 or older.