Four businesses cited for underage alcohol sales
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2012 9:54PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:30AM
Four Tinley Park businesses recently were cited for allegedly selling alcohol to underage customers.
One in particular — Tinley Family Food & Liquor — is in hot water with Ed Zabrocki, who as mayor is also the village’s liquor commissioner. But the store manager claims the alleged violation was an “honest mistake” and that the village is harassing the business.
The store, at 6800 W. 183rd St., long has been a sore point for Zabrocki because of similar violations by a previous owner. It earned his contempt again last week when the Illinois Liquor Control Commission issued a news release saying the store and three others in the village sold to underage customers during a sting operation May 31.
“We’ve been having trouble with that place. Their license has been suspended before. We will potentially revoke the license this time,” Zabrocki said. “Enough is enough. We’ve had run-ins with them from the standpoint of cleanliness, safety and underage sales. This exacerbates the situation.”
Also cited were Frankie’s Ristorante, 9501 W. 171st St.; Charley Horse Restaurant & Bar, 9501 W. 171st St.; and Ed & Joe’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, 17332 S. Oak Park Ave., according to the news release.
Each case is dealt with individually, commission spokeswoman Sue Hofer said.
Zabrocki said Tinley Family Food & Liquor’s liquor license was pulled for three weekend days in November because a police officer saw a clerk sell a can of beer after the 2 a.m. cut-off.
As he stocked shelves there Thursday, store manager Kamal Mashni said the beer was sold before 2 a.m. and the customer was “gossiping with the clerk” before walking out after 2 a.m.
The May 31 incident “was an honest mistake,” Mashni said. A clerk was confused by the date on the buyer’s license, he said.
“She thought it said 1990. It was 1992,” he said. “I’ve had more aggravation from the people in this neighborhood, including the village. I don’t know why. It’s discrimination. We have cops coming in here, getting smart with us.
“I’m not going to stand for this. You think I’m happy with the clerk selling beer to bums? I’m not,” he said.
Zabrocki said he asked the state liquor commission “four or five months ago” to visit a few stores in the village, including Tinley Family Food & Liquor. He noted previous violations there, such as a liquor sale to an underage patron in March 2011 under a previous owner.
Hofer said liquor-sales compliance checks were conducted at 14 stores in Tinley Park on May 31.
“We do this on a regular basis with local volunteers around the state,” Hofer said.
Store owners get a chance to tell their side of the story, she said.
Citations can result in fines or more significant penalties, Hofer said. Recent rulings saw a restaurant slapped with a $2,500 fine and a 10-day suspension of its liquor license after a third violation. A first-time violator was fined $500.
Compliance checks were conducted at 114 businesses statewide in May, Hofer said, and 21 percent were cited for serving underage customers.