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Liquor law violators face fines, temporary loss of licenses

Six Island establishments that sold alcohol to minors in a March sting operation have all learned their final penalties.

One has already lost its liquor license for five days; others have already paid their fines.

But Sportsmen’s Inn, “Sporty’s,” will begin its 15-day license suspension at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 11, and until 10 a.m. June 26, the alcohol won’t be flowing at the popular watering hole, according to state Liquor Control Board officials.

Owner Pete Chorak said his bar will stay open during its time without alcohol and that the 15 days will be “difficult” for the family-run establishment. He declined to comment further on the liquor license suspension.

The 15-day suspension is half the penalty initially planned for the bar, which has been caught selling to minors three times in the last two years.

Chorak and the liquor board reached a compromise last month, in which the bar owner promised to take measures to avoid another underage sale, said Justin Nordhorn, enforcement captain of the King County region of the state liquor board.

Rock Island Pub & Pizza spent five days with no alcohol sales in May, said Rock Island co-owner Carol Dawson. Since the March 28 incident, the eatery now has a new policy to deter underage sales, she said.

“I think I’ll fire (employees) on the spot if they do it,” she said. “We have training in place. It shouldn’t have happened, and it did.”

She said the days without alcohol sales didn’t affect the business’ profits hugely.

“I’m sure we lost some, but I don’t think it was a big hit,” Dawson said. “We’re not a big bar business.”

One restaurant was a unique case. While All India Café did not have a liquor license when it sold alcohol to a minor, owner Sam Arora said the incident was a misunderstanding.

Because the café did not appear to have a valid license, it was issued a written warning and an order to cease serving alcohol, Nordhorn said.

The business had recently changed hands, he said, and therefore did not have a valid liquor license.

“They may have applied for one, but it hadn’t gone through,” Nordhorn said.

Arora said All India Café is under new management, and there may have been confusion surrounding its switch in ownership.

“That was a big misunderstanding,” he said of the March 28 incident, which could have resulted in a criminal gross misdemeanor against the restaurant’s management. “They’ve issued us a new license.”

Nordhorn confirmed that All India received its new license May 27.

Arora added that his establishment has ordered an ID scanning machine to ensure no minors are able to purchase alcohol at All India again.

Three businesses — Green Ginger, Vashon Thriftway and Vashon Chevron — paid fines of $300 to $500 for their failure to enforce liquor laws. For each, it was their first time selling to a minor in the last two years. Employees at the businesses said their workplaces don’t plan to let it happen again.

“We’re telling employees to check everybody’s IDs, including during rush hours, and double-check everything,” said Green Ginger owner Jon Wu.

Thriftway store manager Kim Williams said the Island grocery store will continue to be vigilant about ID checks, as he says has always been the store’s policy.

“We’re doing what we’ve always done, and that’s the employee training ... and studying what the liquor control board puts out as far as our guidelines,” he said. “That’s about all we can do.”

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