Of the 26 restaurants, bars and liquor stores checked during a recent Harford County Liquor Control Board compliance test, 11 sold an alcoholic beverage to underage police cadets.
Two of those 11 opened in the last four months – Acappella in Fallston opened in May and Jarrettsville Pit opened in July – and all the employees underwent alcohol awareness training with one of the liquor board inspectors. Acappella and Twin Silos restaurant in Street asked the cadets for their ID and still served them.
The 42 percent failure rate of the restaurants did not please liquor board members.
"I'm very disappointed," board chairwoman Sandi Tunney said at the end of their meeting Wednesday in Bel Air.
Board member C. John Sullivan II said he was "shocked" at the two new licensees who failed the test.
"They're sleeping at the switch," he said.
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Besides Acappella, Jarrettsville Pit and Twin Silos, other businesses that sold to the cadets were Bayou Restaurant and Coakley's Pub in Havre de Grace; Campus Liquors in Campus Hills; Discount Liquor and Liquor Stop in Bel Air; Short Stop Beverage Barn and La Tolteca in Aberdeen; and Herb's Wine & Spirits in Edgewood.
"It's so easy to pass, it really concerns me how much underage serving is going on," board member Michael Thomson said. "It causes us to be more diligent."
Board inspector Charlie Robbins told board members he noticed that the failure rate gets worse as the time between compliance tests increases.
"They get relaxed," board member Vernon Gauss said.
Those that passed the compliance test were BBX Liquors, Deck Crab House, Fortunato's of Woodbridge and Giovanni's in Edgewood; Freddie's Fine Wines, Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, Mountain Branch and Mountain Road Deli in Joppa; Herb's on the Curb and La Cucina restaurant in Havre de Grace; Hickory Lodge, Red Lobster and Winters Run Golf Course in Bel Air; Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen; and Plaza Mexico in Fallston.
The most recent compliance test was done Aug. 23 using two Bel Air Police Department underage police cadets. Licensees for the 11 businesses that failed will appear before the liquor board Sept. 17 and Oct. 1 for show-cause hearings.
Robbins also pointed out that two businesses were given warnings. At Hilton Garden Inn, people getting off the elevator and onto buses were carrying alcoholic beverages with them, which is not allowed, Robbins said. And at Joppa-Magnolia, the bartender put drinks on the bar then said "I know you guys are both 21," Robbins said. He told board members he urged the bartender to be more careful in the future.