GENEVA – The owners of EvenFlow Music and Spirits, 302 W. State St., Geneva, will pay a $2,500 fine and have their liquor license suspended during certain times and days in October.
Mayor Kevin Burns, as Genva's liquor commissioner, announced the fine and suspension for owners Michael Knuth and Nicholas Mercadante on Friday at a hearing.
The punishment follows an incident Aug. 25 in which the city alleged that Hollywood celebrities were served alcohol from 2 to 5:45 a.m. during a time when liquor license holders cannot serve alcohol and the premises must be closed.
Celebrities were in town the day before at the Hotel Baker in St. Charles for a charity event hosted by TV personality Jenny McCarthy. Reality TV and soap opera star Kelly Monaco; celebrity dance instructor Sergey Onik; movie and TV actor Heath Freeman; McCarthy’s sister, Joanne McCarthy; and two Geneva residents were cited for public intoxication while standing outside of EvenFlow.
Knuth and Mercadante admitted that they stayed open past the 2 a.m. legal closing time and that they allowed members of the public to remain inside the nightclub venue past the legal closing time.
The owners did not admit to serving or providing alcohol to anyone after hours, according to the settlement and agreed order. And the city agreed to drop those charges.
Burns said he and the city want EvenFlow to succeed, but the presence of celebrities was not a reason to make a poor business decision.
"National celebrities? I don't care if it's Jesus Christ and his disciples," Burns said. "'We have rules to follow.'"
Burns praised Knuth and Mercadante for their entrepreneurial spirit – but said they have to follow the terms of their liquor license.
EvenFlow's liquor license will be suspended from midnight to 2 a.m. Oct. 1 through 15; then it will be suspended from midnight to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 1 to 2 a.m. Friday through Saturday Oct. 16 to 31.
The order also requires the owners to stop serving alcohol 15 minutes before 2 a.m., and to announce last call 30 minutes prior to the 1:45 a.m. alcohol cut-off.
Burns said the fine and suspension were fair.
"My position was to enact a penalty that was significant, substantial and stung," Burns said. "And these gentlemen, perhaps more than any other license holder in town, know that their behavior is being watched – that the entire community will be keeping an eye on them to make sure they abide by the penalties enacted."
This is EvenFlow's third liquor code violation and the second for being open past the legal closing time.
"What's at stake here is not just one licensee, but the reputation of the community," Burns said.