Two-week closure for Central Station Pub
Central Station Pub will go quiet for two weeks in the new year after the province’s liquor control and licensing branch (LCLB) slapped the downtown bar with a 14-day licence suspension for serving alcohol to a minor.
In a decision released in November, enforcement hearing adjudicator Nerys Poole suspended the pub’s liquor licence for two weeks starting January 5, 2013.
According to the decision, a teenaged male was sitting at a table in the pub with friends — all apparently of age — on the night of April 21 when liquor inspectors watched a server drop off a tray of shots without checking for ID.
Inspectors called the RCMP, who learned the teen was 17 years old.
In her own submission to the LCLB, the unnamed waitress said the table already had drinks, so she assumed another Central Station staffer had served — and carded — the table as needed.
“It happened in a split second amidst a million other things I was occupied with in performing my duties,” she wrote, adding she regrets the mistake.
The pub was also dinged for failing to eject several overly intoxicated patrons the same night.
Central Station owner Judy Hill said the pub doesn’t dispute either of the inspectors’ findings, but she feels the two-week suspension is too much.
“We have 17 staff with our DJs and our cleaners and the door people. So, there’s 17 people without any income for 14 days, which is pretty harsh,” she said.
Hill said the Central has had one reprimand from the LCLB in its history. That was 10 years ago, when a staffer who no longer works at the pub also served an underage drinker.
“I know we should be totally aware of the liquor laws and we are,” Hill said. “But, it just seems extremely harsh for a first offence.”
While the Central’s staff wrote letters asking for a more lenient punishment, Poole wrote that the 14-day suspension — 10 days for serving the teen, four days for having over-served patrons in the pub — is the mandatory minimum penalty for a first offence.
The pub could also have faced up to $17,000 in fines.
Since April, Hill said, the pub has made sure to keep a doorman on duty throughout the weekend, and liquor inspectors have spoken to staff about how to spot underage drinkers.
But, Hill said, there’s not much they can do to prepare for the coming shutdown, noting her employees aren’t taking the news well.
“They’re scared, the same way it would be if someone said to you that, through no fault of your own, you’re not going to be able to work for two weeks,” she said.
Hill said she would prefer to see a monetary fine for pubs that run afoul of the liquor laws for the first time, with closures being implemented after that.
She also believes minors who enter pubs and bars should face stiffer penalties when they are found drinking.
In the case of the 17 year-old, Hill said she was told he was an American citizen on his way back to the United States. She is not aware if he received any reprimand.
“That teenager, he’s coming through the door knowing he’s breaking the law. He’s totally aware he’s doing it,” Hill said.
“But, he just walks on his way. The person who happened to make a mistake and serve him — if he looked old enough or they weren’t aware — they’re the one that pays the penalty, as do the other people that weren’t even involved.”