Faribault’s City Council approved a one day liquor license suspension for three Faribault establishments that failed compliance checks.
The city’s most recent round of regularly scheduled compliance checks took place Oct. 17. Servers at Corks & Pints, Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits and Carbone’s Pizzeria failed to ask for ID and sold liquor to an underaged individual.
Under city ordinances, businesses which fail the compliance check must have their off-sale and/or on-sale liquor licenses suspended. City ordinance also gives the establishment the right to request a hearing within 10 days after it’s been notified in order to respond. None of the businesses whose employees violated the law requested a hearing, so the City Council moved ahead with plans to suspend their liquor licenses. For the entirety of Dec. 5., no alcohol will be sold at the three establishments.
Faribault Police Capt. Neal Pederson said that the number of compliance check failures this year was higher than normal. Typically the number of failures is one or two. Sometimes, he said, no establishments fail their compliance checks.
Pederson said that the minors involved in the compliance checks receive training before participating in the drill. In the training, they’re instructed to present their actual ID when asked and respond to all questions truthfully.
David Hvistendahl, owner of Corks and Pints, came to the meeting to offer his apologies to the council. Hvistendahl said he had a liquor license for over a decade in Northfield and that that establishment never failed a compliance check.
“I just wanted to stop by and say we’re sorry,” Hvistendahl said “It won’t happen again… This situation involved a server who had been in the business for over 35 years and she just said, ‘I had a mental lapse.’ And that can happen, but we’re sorry.”
In 2015, the council changed the penalty for a failed compliance check from a fine to a temporary suspension of the license. Though they followed the ordinance this time, councilors expressed discomfort with the ordinance.
“I hate to do this it because it’s one employee penalizing all of the other employees,” said Councilor Royal Ross. “I look at it as that we’re penalizing the employees, not the business.”
Councilor Tom Spooner agreed wholeheartedly with Ross’s comments. While Spooner added that he felt enforcement was necessary, he said that the punishment was less than fair and would like to see the council revisit this issue.
“We’re going to impose this on Carbone’s and somebody who’s a waitress that day is going to be severely impacted at their job due to the fact that somebody else did a poor job,” he said. “I don’t think the intent of the law was to do that.”
With Mayor Kevin Voracek absent, Councilor Janna Viscomi presided over the meeting. Viscomi said she was particularly concerned about the effect the ordinance could have on an establishment like an event center.
“The way that this is written is that if somebody goes into (an event center) and they fail the check on a Saturday, we’re going to pull their license on another Saturday,” she said. “So you’re taking away some guy’s wedding day because of (a mistake made at) another guy’s wedding?”