Two South Hadley businesses lose liquor licenses for one day after alcohol sting
SOUTH HADLEY — Two businesses will have their liquor licenses suspended for one day after they served an underage woman during a September sting operation by the Police Department.
It was the second offense for both establishments.
Following public hearings Tuesday night, the Select Board voted unanimously to impose a one-day suspension on selling liquor at the Yarde Tavern, 3 Hadley St., and White Wing Package Store, 568 Newton St., on dates to be determined by each of the businesses.
Police Chief David LaBrie said that other than the two violations of selling to minors, he has not had any problems with either establishment.
“This is certainly one thing I don’t enjoy doing,” LaBrie said.
On Sept. 26, the Police Department used an 18-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman in an alcohol compliance check of 21 licensed businesses. The woman entered both the Yarde Tavern and the White Wing Package Store alone, according to LaBrie.
Mary Mercier, bartender at the Yarde Tavern, said at the hearing that she had mistaken the 18-year-old woman, who came in that night around 7:10, for a 22-year-old woman who regularly enters the bar every week. Mercier said she addressed her by the name of the regular customer, and the woman did not correct her. She then asked her if she would be having her regular drink, and served it to her without asking for identification.
“Am I embarrassed? Absolutely,” Mercier said.
Mercier said that even though she thought the woman to be a regular customer, she knows that she still should have asked for identification.
Marilyn Sicotte, manager of White Wing Package Store, said at the hearing that she was surprised by the incident at her business and apologized. A store employee sold a four-pack of wine coolers to the 18-year-old woman without asking for identification, according to LaBrie.
The Police Department sent letters to the 19 establishments which did not sell alcohol to the underage man or woman, letting them know there had been a sting operation and that they were found to be in compliance of liquor laws. Not every business in town with a liquor license was included in the sting.
Both the Yarde Tavern and White Wing Package Store were found to have sold alcohol to an underage individual in a similar check by the police department on Aug. 15, 2008. According to guidelines adopted by the Select Board in September of that year, the first offense results in a warning, the second offense leads to a one-day license suspension, and the third offense triggers a suspension of between three and seven days, depending on the amount of time between violations.