A crackdown on underage drinkers in Cleveland Circle has sent the fake-ID crowd outward in Brighton, forcing bars that want no part of them to step up their ID checking.
The news came too late for Porter Belly's, on Washington Street in Brighton Center, which found itself before the Boston Licensing Board this morning to explain why police snared two underage drinkers there one night in September - one of whom needed a ride down to District D-14 after he allegedly tried to evade a police detective asking to see his real ID, not the fake license in his wallet.
Porter Belly's manager Sean McCormack told the board he and his small staff were overwhelmed on Sept. 10 when a huge number of young people suddenly showed up - an apparent overflow from a welcome-back-to-school event at another establishment in Brighton, he said.
"We've never been this overwhelmed in a single half-hour period," he said, adding the two people - one with a Bud Light, the other with a rum and coke - did show IDs, which turned out to be fake.
McCormack's lawyer, Carolyn Conway, said the bar has been around for nearly two decades serving mainly the working-class men and women of Brighton Center, and wants no part of the younger crowd forced out of Cleveland Circle by a police crackdown. The pub has never catered to college students and "we want to stay that way," she said.
McCormack and Conway say the pub has taken a number of steps to keep students - especially the younger ones - away. McCormack said he's purchased a $985 license scanner and bright LED flashlights with which to peruse IDs particularly carefully. All of his workers underwent re-training in recognizing fake IDs and people too young to drink.
Also, they said, an extra staffer has been brought on for the Thursday-night entertainment. And the pub has gone with "softer" music for Thursday-night entertainment, of the sort that might send the younger set elsewhere.
McCormack said that since the incident, he and his staff have confiscated 25 fake IDs.
Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini told BPD Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey that the hearing was, in a sense, proof that efforts to curb underage drinking at Cleveland Circle bars are working. Mulvey acknowledged that in 12 years, he had "never seen this type of crowd" at Porter Belly's. "This was something different for them."
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.