In a city full of college students, in a world full of increasingly realistic fake licenses, restaurants and bars face a never ending battle to keep the pre-21 set from getting drinks. A Japanese restaurant on Newbury Street vows to try a new solution: Suing the families of the four teens who got it hauled before the Boston Licensing Board for serving underage drinkers.
Itadaki, 267-269 Newbury St., got caught May 1 when a detective from the BPD licensing board arrived for a random inspection and promptly found a table of four women who looked too young to drink the Bud Lights in front of them, despite driver's licenses from Rhode Island and Connecticut that put their ages at 21. In fact, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey said, all four of their IDs were fake, and he wrote a citation to the restaurant for serving them.
Itadaki's attorney, Karen Simao, told the Boston Licensing Board this morning the restaurant is no longer willing to just accept the damage to its business and reputation caused by pre-21 drinkers and that it's readying a lawsuit against the families of the four teens for the damage they've caused the restaurant's reputation - and potentially its business, should the board decide Thursday to suspend its license for one or more days.
In addition to possible lawsuits, the four teens also face criminal charges for being minors in possession of alcohol.
Simao and a restaurant co-owner said they are engaged in a never-ending arms race with crafty local teens and the sophisticated purveyors of fake IDs - the four teens presented licenses that even had realistic looking holograms on them.
Since the incident, the restaurant has bought an expensive license scanner - and doubled its efforts to get staff to reject anybody about whom there is the least doubt. They added the server in question was terminated.
"Selling four Bud Lights is not worth being closed for an hour, much less four days," Simao said.
Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini, who noted the restaurant got a three-day suspension in December for a similar incident last year, said it might be time for the restaurant to follow state regulations, which specify that the only truly acceptable IDs are Massachusetts licenses or alcohol IDs, passports and US military IDs.
Itadaki said following that to the letter could put it out of business altogether - estimating roughly half its business on the tourist-heavy street comes from people from out of state or out of the country.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take about both this incident and an incident four days later in which a rear exit was found blocked.