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22 Portland businesses cited for selling alcohol to minors

News

22 Portland businesses cited for selling alcohol to minors

PORTLAND — Nearly two dozen city businesses were cited for allegedly selling alcohol to minors over the weekend, according to police.

Police, using underage volunteers, performed compliance checks at 80 stores and restaurants from Oct. 25-27. Of those establishments, 22 sold alcohol to minors, according to a news release from 21 Reasons, a coalition that seeks to prevent underage drinking.

Portland Police Cmdr. Gary Rogers said he was surprised by the 27 percent failure rate. 

“This high rate is very concerning when one considers the potential impact to our community, especially to young people," Rogers said in the release. "Car crashes, alcohol poisoning, and injuries are just some of the dangers.” 

Rogers said the compliance failures could be due to several factors, including inadequate staff training and lack of clear policies on alcohol sales from management. 

The list of businesses includes national and regional chains – 7 Eleven, Amato's and Hannaford Bros. – as well as mom-and-pop stores like West End Deli, Mellen Street Market and Quality Shop.

Michael Shamos, co-owner of Quality Shop, said the store's failure was an isolated incident, not a sign of inadequate training or policies. He said the compliance check occurred during a rush at the store, and a five-year employee made a mistake during the transaction.

"We have to check IDs and we normally do, because we're right near the schools – we have Deering High School and (University of New England)," he said.

He said the people who conduct the compliance checks generally appear older and wait until the store's busiest times. He added that it's no excuse for non-compliance.

During his 44 years at the store, Shamos said he could recall receiving three such citations, including the most recent one.

Joe Nappi, manager at Mellen Street, said the failure was a mistake.

"When you make a mistake you move on," he said. "That's all you can do is try harder."

Rogers said the infractions would be reviewed by the state liquor board, which would likely impose fines on the businesses. It is unlikely that the businesses would lose their liquor licenses, he said.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.