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Local Government

Servers cited, fined in Swedish Days compliance check

Tavern owners to face hearings

GENEVA – Servers at three establishments were cited for serving alcohol to underage customers during a compliance check June 21 during the Swedish Days Festival, according to police reports.

Those cited were Wilson Urteaga, 38, of the 2200 block of Scott Lane, Aurora, a server at  EvenFlow Music and Spirits, 302 W. State St.; Kristen Real, 27, of the 400 block of South 19th Street, St. Charles, a server at Sergio’s Mexican Cantina, 30 W. State St.; and Wallace J. Luyten, 37, of the 1800 block of Jeanette Avenue, South Elgin, a server at Fiora’s Restaurant, 317 S. Third St. 

Each was issued a $250 fine and a notice to appear in court.

Mayor Kevin Burns, who is the city’s liquor commissioner, said in a text message that compliance letters will be sent this week to the liquor license holders and their registered agents, and a date for the hearings will be scheduled.

Police checked 16 establishments and beer gardens during the festival, using underage people who used their true IDs to see whether they would get served.

In this case, Cmdr. Eric Passarelli said, police used a man and woman, both 19 years old, in the compliance checks. The legal age to drink in Illinois is 21.

Passarelli said Fiora’s and EvenFlow did not check for identification at all. A bouncer checked at Sergio’s and allowed them in, but the server did not check again when they ordered beers and were served, he said.

Sergio de los Santos, owner of Sergio’s Cantina, said he had not yet received the compliance letter from the city. 

“I don’t know how they got in,” said Santos, adding the restaurant was using bracelets to identify who was of age to drink legally. “They had a lot of bracelets of their own, like leather bracelets, and that is why she served them.”

Sergio’s opened in 2007 after the previous restaurant bar, Potter’s Place, was closed for nearly two years.

The previous owner, David Potter, had liquor citations June 21, 2005 – during Swedish Days – and then on July 27, both for serving underage. The first was a compliance check, and the second incident involved four underage employees who were also cited for drinking. The bartender was also cited.

The first citation resulted in a one-day liquor license suspension and a $1,500 fine, but Potter’s Place closed after the second citation resulted in a 10-day liquor license suspension.

Potter closed the restaurant after he did not pay the $4,000 fine and did not renew his food license.

Mike Anastasio, owner of Fiora’s, said the restaurant has strict policies against serving underage and for checking IDs.

“I don’t have anything to indicate anything but human error,” Anastasio said of his employee. “He’s a good man. He just made a mistake and feels terrible about it. He was working outdoors, working the bar during the busiest time of the night. We did suspend him for two days and put him on probation. We are going to do all we can to see nothing like this ever happens again.”

A person answering the phone at EvenFlow said owners and the server were unavailable to comment. Messages left on the owners’ voice mail seeking comment were not returned.

This is the second liquor license violation for EvenFlow in eight months. On Nov. 17, owner Michael Knuth and his partner, Nicholas Mercadante, were cited for alcohol being served to Mercadante at 4 a.m. in violation of the city’s code. The liquor code does not allow alcoholic beverages to be served between 2 and 6 a.m. on licensed premises.  

They were fined $1,000, and the license was suspended for one day. But it was the second incident involving drinking after hours at the establishment, which also features live music.

At the time, police said the owners were reminded in September, two months after they opened, that they cannot serve or consume liquor after hours. City officials did not cite EvenFlow in September, but warned that another infraction would result in charges.

Police traditionally warn liquor license holders to be vigilant during the Swedish Days Festival because that is when they conduct compliance checks, officials said.

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