Four Easthampton businesses cited for selling alcohol to minors

  • The Pulaski Club, 79 Maple Street, Easthampton.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/25/2022 7:46:02 PM
Modified: 8/25/2022 7:42:26 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Four city establishments have been issued warnings by the Easthampton Licensing Board after serving and selling alcohol to minors during a compliance check earlier this month.

The businesses, Jim’s Package Store, Kisara Japanese & Korean Restaurant, Abandoned Building Brewery and Pulaski Club, were found to have sold and served alcohol to underage patrons during a compliance operation conducted by the Police Department and the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition on Aug. 4, according to Licensing Board Chairperson Kelly A. Richey.

While this was a first-time violation for Abandoned Building Brewery and Kisara Japanese & Korean Restaurant, it was not for Jim’s Package Store. The Pulaski Club had also come before the board numerous times for other violations, according to Richey.

“This is not the first, nor the second time. This is the third time,” Richey said to the representatives for Jim’s Package Store at an Aug. 24 Licensing Board hearing. “I remember you coming in and telling me this would never happen again, and it did. With the same employee.”

Jim’s Package Store’s license was suspended for three days in 2008 after the store failed a compliance check with the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. The business also failed a local compliance check in 2018.

Representatives for the store indicated that the employee who had sold alcohol to minors during two different stings has since been fired.

Richey and fellow board members, Anthony Karella and Stanley McCoy, agreed that they felt comfortable with issuing a warning now that the employee who was responsible for the violations no longer worked for the store. Richey noted that while the board could not ask a business, she felt comfortable knowing that they would no longer be working there.

“I’m comfortable knowing that that employee is no longer working there and a warning that if it happens again, we will exercise our right to not renew your license or give you a suspension for three days,” she said. “I do not want to see you again.”

Management from Abandoned Building Brewery, in The Brickyard building, and Kisara, on Cottage Street, admitted fault and indicated that they would ensure that all members of their respective staffs would get better at checking for proper identification. A representative from Kisara also noted that they have installed additional signage for checking identification at their restaurant and were holding training specifically for that purpose.

Similar to Jim’s Package Store, the board indicated that should they fail a compliance check again, they could face a three-day license suspension or not have their license renewed.

When the hearing began for the Pulaski Club, Richey spoke after a long pause.

“Pulaski Club … I don’t even know where to start,” she said. “We have a long history with your club — for many different things … You’re before us at least twice a year.”

In the past, the club has received violations via the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. In 2017, investigators discovered that there was illegal gambling at the club and that the club’s president, Scott Vishaway, hindered their investigation. As part of the scheme, gamblers would insert money into two video gaming machines and cash in their winnings behind the bar.

As for the recent local violation, the police report shows that an individual served alcohol to an underage patron at 5:53 p.m. while there were only two patrons, said Richey.

“How could you not ask for identification? You weren’t even busy,” she said.

The bartender who served the minor indicated that while the patron looked similar to another regular patron, she was also having a medical episode at the time.

“At that time, my blood sugar was in a crash and my alarm was beeping like crazy, so I was just trying to serve him and take care of myself at the same time,” the bartender told the board. “I should have ID’d him.”

Richey recommended that the bartender should have stepped away from the bar to take care of herself before helping the customer.

“This is a minor. It doesn’t matter who they look like. Everyone knows me at Big E. I get carded every time I go in there,” she said. “There is no excuse for when there is nobody at the bar and it’s not busy — and there isn’t even an excuse when it’s busy. You just don’t serve minors. If this goes on when it’s empty, what goes on when it’s full?”

The club representatives indicated that with the new management, there have not been any issues in the past year.

Much like the other businesses, the board recommended issuing a warning. Should they come back before the Licensing Board for a violation, the club’s liquor license will be suspended or not renewed.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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