Arlington Heights businesses fined for selling booze to minors

  • Mago Grill & Cantina, 115 W. Campbell St., was fined $1,500 Monday by Arlington Heights officials for selling alcohol to a minor. It was one of 13 village businesses cited as a result of an undercover police sting operation.

    Mago Grill & Cantina, 115 W. Campbell St., was fined $1,500 Monday by Arlington Heights officials for selling alcohol to a minor. It was one of 13 village businesses cited as a result of an undercover police sting operation. Daily Herald File Photo, 2012

 
 
Updated 7/15/2019 6:27 PM

Six Arlington Heights businesses were leveled fines totaling more than $5,000 on Monday for serving alcohol to minors during an annual undercover police department sting.

Most of the fines imposed by Mayor Tom Hayes, who also serves as local liquor control commissioner, were $750 each for first offenses, but one business had to pay $1,500 for its second offense in less than three years.

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And while there were no recorded liquor license violations in Arlington Heights in 2018, the six license holders who had their hearings Monday at village hall are among a total of 13 violations in 2019, according to Robin Ward, the village's in-house counsel. There were two violations in 2017, six in 2016 and five in 2015, Ward said.

Another hearing will be set to hear the rest of the violations, minus California Pizza Kitchen, which closed its downtown Arlington Heights location June 23.

All 114 liquor license holders in the village receive notices of the annual police undercover stings, in which the department hires local high school students to go to bars, restaurants and liquor stores to try to purchase alcohol.

"The cautionary tale is these compliance checks can happen at any time," Hayes told one business owner. "You have to be vigilant at all times."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

During the hearings Monday afternoon, Mago Grill & Cantina, 115 W. Campbell St., was fined $1,500 for its second violation. It also was cited in 2016.

Manager Richard Munoz said as a result, the business now requires ID for any patron who wants to purchase alcohol, whereas before employees would card anyone who looked age 35 and younger.

Mago also won't sell to anyone with a vertical ID card -- such Illinois licenses identify those under 21. Munoz said even if someone has turned 21 and displays that ID, he won't accept it.

Around the corner at La Tasca Tapas, which was fined $750, manager Danny Barbarigos said employees now require ID for those who look younger than 55. It's led to some sarcastic comments from customers of the restaurant at 25 W. Davis St., he says, but just part of "going as strict as possible."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The village was doing their job, and we weren't. That's for sure," Barbarigos said. "We feel very embarrassed for being here. We've gotten much more strict. It's put us back on our toes again."

Also receiving $750 first-time fines Monday were Peggy Kinnane's Irish Restaurant & Pub, 8 N. Vail Ave.; Ttowa Restaurant, 161 W. Wing St.; San Korean Cuisine, 234 E. Golf Road; and Golf Liquors, 606 E. Golf Road.

All six businesses fined Monday also were required to pay $300 in attorney's fees, a $75 administrative fee, and a still-to-be-determined court reporter's fee.

Hayes also required some of the employees who sold the alcohol to minors to be recertified in Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training.

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