Six stores sell beer to minor

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Employees at six businesses received citations Friday night for selling alcohol to a minor. Employees at 12 establishments passed the compliance check.

Police sent two men, ages 19 and 20, to Steamboat Springs restaurants and liquor stores to attempt to purchase beer.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said the stores did better than in September, when nine of 11 stores failed to ask for identification.

"It's obvious we still have work to do," he said.

On Friday, employees failed to ask for ID at Steamboat Discount Liquors, Cantina, Rio Grande, Dos Amigos, Market on the Mountain and the Fireside Bar in Holiday Inn.

Businesses that passed the compliance check were Mahog--any Ridge Brewery & Grill, The Tap House, Mambo Italiano, Old Town Pub, Mount Werner Sinclair, Snow Bowl, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boothill Bar & Grill, Golden Cue, Old West Steak House, Jade Summit and Mazzola's.

In the past, when a business failed a compliance check, the clerk or server who sold the alcohol received a criminal citation, as did the business owner.

In October, the City Council approved harsher administrative penalties for businesses. As a result, the owners were not given criminal citations Friday.

Instead, the owners will have to schedule hearings with the City Council, which is the city's liquor licensing agency. The council will decide what penalties to impose on the businesses.

The harsher penalties include mandatory liquor license suspensions, but the council can consider special circumstances and opt not to impose a suspension.

"We had hoped for a better compliance this time while the issues of selling alcohol to minors were still fresh in our minds," City Clerk Julie Jordan said. "We thought we were addressing this issue to the community as a whole. We hoped the next sting would show a 100 percent compliance."

Rio Grande general manager Doug Mouton said the citation marked the first time in 19 years the restaurant has failed a compliance check.

"As a restaurant, we're very proactive in training our servers," he said.

"Unfortunately, you're only as good as your employees."

Mouton said he routinely trains his staff about alcohol laws and brings in a professional trainer.

He said the woman cited Friday night for selling a beer to the underage buyer had been trained eight months ago.

"We had a story that ran in the paper about selling alcohol to minors taped up around the restaurant that said in big red letters, 'Check IDs, check IDs,'" he said.

"Unfortunately, (the employee) made the mistake of not checking an ID."

Mouton also said the company's policy is to fire any employee who is caught selling alcohol to a minor.

"Even though this happened to us, this is a very important issue. You just have to be in compliance," he said. "It's a really unfortunate situation."

Rae said the clerks who were given citations ranged in age from 20 to 36.

"Our goal is to do these checks and see that 100 percent of the businesses are complying. We'll keep trying until we get there," he said.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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