Harford liquor board fines Scotto's Cafe for serving minor

The Harford County Liquor Control Board voted Wednesday to fine the licensees of Scotto's Cafe in the Festival at Bel Air $1,000 for serving a minor during a compliance test earlier this year.

The fine will be on top of an earlier fine of $750 the board imposed on the three resident licensees for their failure to show up for an earlier hearing scheduled Aug. 22.


According to evidence presented Wednesday, which the licensees didn't dispute, a bartender at Scotto's served a beer to an 18-year-old liquor board employee, accompanied by a county sheriff's deputy, during the June 8 compliance test. She served him, even though she requested identification and examined the 18-year-old's vertical license, Chief Inspector Charles Robbins told the board.

The bartender made a "wrong choice," Maurizio Illiano, one of the licensees, told the board, apologizing profusely and calling the incident "non-intentional" and "an accident."

Illiano said the employee has worked for Scotto's three to four years and, as a result of the violation, he has been holding meetings with his staff in an effort to prevent similar occurrences. Asked by board member Sandi Tunney if the bartender had given any reason for the violation, Illiano said "she didn't have an explanation."

Board Chairman Donald Hess admonished the licensees for their failure to appear on the previous hearing date, saying the board is always willing to work with a licensee who can't make a hearing, as long as they are told in advance. "Not showing up is not acceptable," he added.

Scotto's had a similar compliance test violation in 2009. It also received a $1,000 fine for that violation.

In other business Wednesday, the liquor board granted supplemental licenses to Red Lobster of Bel Air and Sizzling Bombay of Bel Air for changes in officers or resident licensees.

The board approved an outside event application for a five-year anniversary party at Tidewater Grille in Havre de Grace on Sept. 8 and a request to use distilled spirits in cooking filed by Santini's Italian Cuisine in Joppatowne.

One day beer and wine licenses were also approved for County Councilman Chad Shrodes for a political fundraiser at Grimmel Farms on Sept. 8; St. Mark Catholic Church in Fallston for an adult retreat on Sept. 8; Bel Air Alliance for First Fridays on Oct. 5; Havre de Grace Chamber of Commerce for a bull and oyster roast on Oct. 12 at the Community Center; and The Harford Center in Havre de Grace for an art show and silent auction Oct. 13.