Raleigh's Closed Following Liquor License Suspension

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When Raleigh's American Pub & Grill sold alcohol to a minor on one particular day in May, it did not anticipate that the violation would lead to the suspension of its liquor license more than six months after the slip-up.

Caught selling alcoholic beverages to minors, the popular bar and restaurant on Telegraph Avenue has been closed since Dec. 18, when it received a notice from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suspending its liquor license for 25 days.

The suspension resulted from a citation issued on May 3, when the Alcoholic Beverage Control department and the UCPD ran a joint minor decoy operation as part of compliance checks to licensed businesses, according to John Carr, public information officer for the Alcoholic Beverage Control department.

"We recruit a decoy ... a young person under the age of 21 attempts to buy alcohol, and if (the vendor) sells, then we cite the (seller) on the site," he said. "(We) inform (the vendor) what just occurred and try to do it in a low-key way."

Kellen Gauthiar, a Berkeley resident who frequents the bar, said Raleigh's has faced similar charges in the past.

"They've been cited a lot of times before for serving alcohol to minors," he said. "I know they were trying to be strict on it, but apparently (they're) not strict enough."

The bar's previous license violations, including incidents involving minors in 2006, were considered in determining its penalty, but the suspension stemmed solely from the May 2008 citation and was not tied to instances that may have occurred recently, according to Carr.

Raleigh's was one of only five of the 42 locations that the UCPD visited and cited for selling alcohol to minors between July 2007 and 2008, meaning 88 percent of liquor vendors in Berkeley complied with their Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses, Carr said.

"It's not common for a business to be cited in Berkeley," he said. "Most business do a good job checking IDs, but it does happen."

Carr said the Alcoholic Beverage Control department has the authority to revoke a license if the business is caught making three sales to minors within a three-year period.

"It is (Raleigh's) second strike with a three-year period," he said.

Although its alcohol license was suspended, the bar is allowed to stay open and continue serving food. Raleigh's could not be reached for comment regarding its plans to reopen.

While the Alcoholic Beverage Control department can put restrictions varying in severity from fines to the license revocation, only the city of Berkeley has the jurisdiction to regulate how a business operates and shut it down.

Gregory Daniel, code enforcement supervisor for the city, said the code enforcement unit has not been involved in Raleigh's case yet.

"(There) are too many variables for me to say at this point what we would do, because it has not been referred to code enforcement for action at this point," he said.

Carr said the Alcoholic Beverage Control department has a Grant Assistance to Local Law Enforcement Program that allocates $3 million each year to aid about 40 law enforcement agencies across California in addressing alcohol-related issues. UCPD received a $79,000 grant that ended in June 2008, and the Berkeley Police Department received a $89,000 grant to be used through June 2009.

Even before the Responsible Beverage Service Training ordinance passed last year, Daniel said the city conducted training sessions to acquaint servers at liquor vendors including Raleigh's with tools to ensure that alcohol is kept away from minors.

"From an enforcement perspective, there's really no excuse," Daniel said. "If you get caught, then you probably weren't very diligent about how you were running your business. There are too many tools to prevent that from happening, whether it's electronic equipment, or something as simple as, 'Let me see your ID.'"


Jessica Kwong is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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