Restaurant busted for serving minors

WESTFIELD – The License Commission voted last night to yank the liquor license of the Panda House restaurant for serving minors under the age of 21.
The commission found that the staff served nine underaged patrons and imposed a three-day suspension for each violation. The commission will require the owner Cuiying Lin to surrender the liquor license for 10 days, while 17 days of the suspension will be “held in abeyance” for one year.
Yin, and his wait staff, must complete a TIPS Alcohol training program and provide certification of completion of that course to the commission during the 10 days of suspension to get his license back.
The commission acted as the result of a police report, dated April 14, 2013, in which two groups of underaged patrons were found to have been served alcohol.
Sgt. Eric Hall testified at the violation hearing that a take-out patron had observed what appeared to be underaged patrons being served alcohol and reported that to the Westfield Police Department.
Hall, Sgt. Michael Chechile and Officer Sean F. Smith were dispatched to the Panda House Restaurant located at 589 East Main St. in the Little River Plaza.
The officers observed two separate groups of patrons who appeared to be under the age of 21 and who had “scorpion bowls” on their tables with multiple straws. Scorpion bowls usually contain gin, rum, vodka, fruit juice and other forms of alcohol, Hall reported. At one table was a group of six high school students from Agawam and Southwick while at the second table was a group of six Westfield State University students.
Hall said the patrons produced identification showing they were clearly underage, which were then shown to the waitresses who were serving the two tables.
The waitresses told the officers that those IDs were not the ones shown originally, so the officers spoke again with the underaged patrons and were given the fake identifications originally used. In total the officer collected three fake IDs from the Feeding Hills/Southwick table and three from the college table.
Hall said the local youths were detained until they contacted their parents for rides home because the officers were concerned about the potency of the mixed drink.
Two of the patrons at the college table were drinking water. One, as the designated driver, passed a test on a portable breath test machine. She was allowed to drive the other college patrons home.
The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) limits the identification that can be accepted as proof of age to six forms under Massachusetts General Law 138, section 34-b.
That list provides a level of indemnification to businesses that check identification if the false identification provided is one of the following, which includes both state and federal picture-identification.
The acceptable identification are a Massachusetts driver’s license, an ABCC identification card or a Massachusetts Identification Card, all of which have a photo of the owner. The ABCC also allows the use of a federally issued passport or passport card or military identification, which are also forms of photo identifications.
Two of the fake IDs, purchased on line for $100, were a fake Rhode Island driver’s license and the other a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Another of the youths used a private security license from Ontario.
Commissioner Christopher Mowatt said the out-of-state identification “should have raised questions” in the minds of the staff before they served the alcohol to the youths.
Commissioner Edward Diaz said “a red flag should have gone up” when the false identification was shown was “reckless and careless.
“The most common person could have walked in there and guessed underaged drinking was going on,” Diaz said “We’re talking about young kids here. I’m very concerned about who understands what in terms of serving alcohol.
“Reading this report, it could have been a very bad summer for many families,” Diaz said “Please take this seriously. I hope you can get it together, get a game plan together,” Diaz said to Lin.
“Do you know your responsibilities as the owner (and licensee)? Are you training your staff so they know who gets served and who does not?” Diaz asked.
Mowatt said the incident showed a lack of proper training.
“The waitresses failed to look at the IDs and judge their viability,” Mowatt said.
The license suspension begins today and expires on July 4 if the TIPS training conditions have been met to the satisfaction of the commission.

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