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Liquor violation leads to 3-day suspension for Alibi

ST. CHARLES – A downtown bar that had three liquor license violations within eight months can’t serve alcohol for three business days this month, the St. Charles Liquor Commission ruled Monday.

Alibi Bar and Grill, 12 N. Third St., will be allowed to serve food during the suspension from 7 a.m. March 20 to 2 a.m. March 23. It also must pay a $2,000 fine plus $500 in costs – the same fine and costs The Beehive Tavern and Grille, 204 W. Main St., recently paid for a liquor violation.

Mayor Don DeWitte, who also serves as liquor commissioner, said Alibi received a stiffer penalty because of its previous violations. With only one warning, DeWitte said, The Beehive had a “fairly clean” 2012.

“Clearly the repetitive nature with Alibi’s infraction was the leading factor for suspension in this case,” he said.

For each of its other offenses – open after hours and advertising and giving away free alcohol – Alibi received a $1,000 fine plus $500 in costs. Its latest violation stemmed from a Jan. 13 incident in which paramedics were called to treat an intoxicated woman slumped in a bathroom stall, unable to care for herself, according to a St. Charles police report.

Had Alibi staff given the woman a bottle of water and sent her home in a taxi, there wouldn’t have been a problem, DeWitte said.

He acknowledged monitoring patrons is tough, but ultimately bartenders and waitstaff are responsible for not over serving customers. Whenever paramedics are called, he said, “that tells me there was no monitoring.”

Over serving in the city’s bars has come under scrutiny from the City Council. DeWitte asked aldermen in August to change closing time from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. in an effort to curb over serving.

“If the City Council was in charge of this process, they’d be looking for his license right now,” DeWitte said of Alibi owner Richard Simpson.

However, he noted, fines and penalties are controlled by state statutes. City Attorney Tom Good said the discipline must be progressive.

Simpson attended the hearing with attorney Ketki Shroff Steffen, who said her client is interested in having Alibi become a better business in St. Charles. Simpson said his establishment has been screening customers in recent weeks in an attempt to avoid problems.

Having already paid his fine, Beehive owner Steve Baginski did not attend Monday’s hearing. The Beehive’s penalty stemmed from a patron leaving the bar with alcohol and from a Feb. 1 drunken driving accident that involved a Beehive customer.

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