GENEVA – Two businesses cited for serving underage during a police compliance check during Swedish Days last month will each pay a $1,000 fine and have their liquor licenses suspended for one 24-hour period.
Liquor license holders Lindsey De Los Santos of Sergio’s Mexican Cantina, 30 W. State St. and Michael Anastasio of Fiora’s Restaurant, 317 S. Third St. agreed to the fines and judgments in a consent order.
Fiora’s will have its license suspended Friday and Sergio’s will be suspended Friday, Aug. 23.
The charges and findings were read at a liquor hearing held Monday before the City Council met.
Anastasio and De Los Santos both acknowledged they were waiving their rights to a hearing.
“I agree with the disposition of these terms of the consent orders and finding of facts and will issue a separate order for each,” Mayor Kevin Burns said, acting in his capacity as the Geneva Liquor Commissioner.
Police do compliance checks during the festival every year, with underaged volunteers who go into the beer gardens and establishments with their real identification to see if they will be turned away or allowed in and served.
Of 16 checked on June 21, three served two 19-year-olds beer, police said.
After the hearing, De Los Santos said Sergio’s might not offer a beer garden at the next festival because it is not worth the liability because the business’s focus is more of a restaurant than a bar.
“It is pretty harsh, but it is a pretty serious thing for minors to be served,” De Los Santos said of the fine and suspension. “We understand that and we take full responsibility. And we apologize to the city … I always think things are a blessing in disguise. Maybe this is something that will help us prevent something worse from happening. We’ll be more careful in the future.”
De Los Santos explained that she and a new server were in a crowded beer garden during the festival when the underage agents were allowed in.
De Los Santos said both she and the server had Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training certificates.
“I had stepped away to take care of something and somebody that was looking at IDs and giving wristbands – so they were not given wristbands but they were allowed to come in and listen to the band and this server … said she thought it was OK and did not take a careful look,” De Los Santos said.
Anastasio was not available for comment, but in earlier statements, said, “We are going to do all we can to see nothing like this ever happens again.”
The judgments are different than in past years, with the 24-hour suspensions coming quickly after the hearing, as opposed to waiting for the next year’s Swedish Days Festival.
“My philosophy has evolved,” Burns said. “We believe that the penalty is to be certain, it has to be severe and should also be swift. We believe enacting that penalty within 30 days of the hearing makes much more sense.”
Also cited for serving underage were Michael Knuth and Nicholas Mercadante of EvenFlow Music & Spirits, 302 W. State St.
“We are still in negotiations and discussions with them,” Burns said. “We hope to have a hearing this week.”