Hordes of beer-mad BC undergrads are overwhelming Cleveland Circle pizza place

The co-owner of what was initially billed as a family-friendly pizza place on Chestnut Hill Avenue now says he is spending every night at the front door, turning away 200 to 250 underage BC students trying to take advantage of his restaurant's beer and wine license.

"It's just shocking," Dimitrios Liakos, co-owner of Agoros Bar and Grille, told the Boston Licensing Board of his three weeks on doorman duty. "It's mind blowing to me. ... It's crazy. It's absolutely insane to see that many students go out with fake IDs and try to get in." And the students are persistent - he said one young woman has been trying for five weeks to get into the bar.

Liakos was before the board to answer the two most recent citations issued for underage drinking.

In one case, on April 6, police detectives said two underage BC students managed to worm their way to the bar. Liakos actually denied entry to one, a 19-year-old from Connecticut, but the guy then went to semi-separate pizza-by-the-slice area Agoros has, then, when nobody was looking, slipped through the door to the bar.

The second, a 20-year-old pal of his from DC, went out back and waited until a kitchen worker opened the back door to throw out trash, then slipped in through that door, detectives said. Detectives said that when they entered the bar area shortly before midnight, they found the two at the bar, enjoying Bud Lights.

In the second incident, on Feb. 17, an underage woman had the bad luck of hoisting a friend's beer to her lips just as detectives entered the restaurant and spied her. Although they agreed they had no evidence she purchased any beer herself, they said they confiscated a fraudulent West Virginia license from her.

Liakos said he's doing what he can to stem the tide - he asks particularly young would-be patrons the capital of the state their licenses are from, for their Zip code or for the name of their favorite restaurant in their alleged hometown; as police have learned, the kids often trip up in their answers. He said he paid $1,000 for a license scanner, but returned it after a couple weeks because it was approving too many fake IDs.

Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said that despite his night hours and the questioning, Liakos needs to do even more. She noted that the board cautioned Liakos before he opened last year in what was the former Roggie's, that he'd face a tough job keeping the young BC students away from alcohol.

"Obviously, your plan is not working out so far," she said, noting Agoros has faced other violations, including one in which a new bartender, himself an of-age BC student, was caught serving beers to underage BC students.

Pulgini suggested Liakos talk to the owner of another Cleveland Circle bar, which she didn't name, but which was obviously Mary Ann's, about how it has cleaned up its act and stayed out of trouble for the past year.

The board decides what action, if any, to take on the two citations at a meeting on Thursday.

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Comments

If this guy is actually

If this guy is actually surprised that underage college kids are trying to get into a bar in Cleveland Circle with fake IDs, then he clearly did zero research before deciding to open it.

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Reform alcohol laws

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These college students will soon be your engineers, teachers, financial managers, government officials, and (less soon) doctors.

The practices described here suggest that these young people are being taught two things:

1. That it's ethically OK to lie and cheat.

2. Laws don't apply to them. (What happens to a poor 19 year-old who is not going to an expensive college, if they're caught using counterfeit government ID?)

Tell them how tricky alcohol can be, encourage them to have a sense of responsibility for themselves and others, and then let them get practical experience with this in the relatively safe college environment.

And stop treating legit alcohol-serving business owners like they're criminals. You want social responsibility, not fear of bureaucrats. Responsibility makes people want to help with problems, fear makes them want to hide problems.

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Ethics

I'd be very curious whether the 21 drinking age that went into effect in the 80's had a generational effect on ethics. The baby boomers didn't go through college breaking the law on a weekly basis the way that Gen X did.

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Good point

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We're seeing daily that baby boomer's ethics are certainly no better than if not worse than average folks.

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Small window

Most of us 'boomers did go through college breaking the (drinking age) law. The age here Mass was 21 until 1973. It went back up to 20 in 1979, then 21 when Congress forced 21 on us in 1985.

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Wasn't it 18 at one point

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Wasn't it 18 at one point before it went to 20 in 79?
I was in HS in 79 and IIRC correctly, at first they wanted to raise it to 21 but eventually settled on 20 as a compromise.

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Of course not

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Pot was totally legal until like 1983, right?

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Don't know about ethics, but cynicism? Yes! Binge drinking? YES!

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I've talked about this in this forum previously. I came to Boston before the law changed the drinking age back to 21. So I and most of my class peers could drink legally when we were still undergrads, but the classes right behind us could not.

And in general, things got much stricter. So in 83 there were lots of 18-19 year olds drinking with the older folk - but after 84 the hammer came down and basically all undergrads were cut off.

What I and others witnessed (and remarked upon) at the time was a really noticable upswing in bad drinking habits within the ugrad population at that point. It quickly became normal to get drunk before even going out for the night, to carry flasks of hard spirits, and to binge drink.

Another bad effect for Boston in particular - students who were younger than me spent much less time among their fellow Bostonians. My age peers and I could (and did) go to local restaurants, pubs, clubs, sports venues like Fenway, etc - and just be adults among other adults. We felt like this was our city and we loved to explore it. The classes immediately following ours felt much more removed from the social life of the city in general and stuck to campus a lot more. Even socializing between the various college campuses decreased.

At my MIT living group, about a third of my class stuck around Boston for at least a few years after graduating. Nearly none of the following classes did - they wanted to go someplace where they could make a life as adults - because they didn't feel they had been able to do that for the past four years.

In my opinion, the 21-year drinking age has been a disaster, and created a nation filled with people with bad drinking habits and a casual disrespect for the law.

If we think someone is old enough to die for our country, then I think they're old enough to be allowed to have a damn beer or two.

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Important post

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Thank you, Jeff F. I think what you've said here is very important.

In addition to the alcohol issues, all the time I've been around MIT, most students don't interact outside MIT. And then they graduate, where their work often affects people whose lives the insulated MIT grad doesn't understand. I'm not a big fan of alcohol, but if hanging out at the pub gets MIT students talking with the locals, that alone is worth it.

Now that Boston is getting some tech jobs and startup funding again, maybe feeling like an adult in the city here will help keep more new MIT grads from fleeing to the Bay Area, NYC, and PNW.

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Babyboomers

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According to Wiki, baby boomers were born between 1943 and 1960. The drinking age in Mass dropped from 21 to 18 in 1973. So many had already gone through college "suffering" the inability to drink legally, just like today's students.

The drinking age in Mass was only 18 for 6 years. In 1973 it was raised to 20 and people who were legally drinking suddenly lost that privilege. And then in 1984 it went up to 21 again. So those 20 year olds lost the ability to walk into a bar for a drink.

as for it being a generational thing ... lots of baby boomers could not legally drink in college. Whether they broke the law like you say Gen-x did or not is hard to say ....

I am a "young" baby boomer drank legally in an on campus pub at 18 but had to stop when the drinking age went up to 20.

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A tiny detail that makes all the difference

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another Cleveland Circle bar, which she didn't name, but which was obviously Mary Ann's

THIS is what makes UHub great. I could have read the same story in the Globe, but they would never put 2 and 2 together for me like this. Thanks!

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Meh

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Could also be Cityside.

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Nope

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Pulgini referred to a place that had cleaned up its act. Cityside has never had major problems with the licensing board, at least not in all the years I've been covering it, whereas Mary Ann's, well, Pulgini's board once held a meeting right in Cleveland Circle (at the Waterworks Museum) specifically to address the Mary Ann's situation.

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Underage

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A simple fix to this would be to suspend the license for 30 days of whoever is using the fake ID, this would greatly reduce the amount of students taking this risk. If you used a fake ID in any other situation, you would be charged with a crime, in some cases a felony. In an age where fake IDs can be ordered online and are one step ahead of the detection technology there needs to be stiffer penalties for the person who is fraudulently using them, I get the restaurants have a responsibility, however if the IDs are outsmarting the technology something else must be done.

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Suspend

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It makes a big difference. A. It shows up on your record, B. There is a $500 reinstatement fee along with the hassle of reinstatement And the hassle of reinstatement. According to this article the current system isn't working as a deterrent for the kids illegal act. If you have a better suggestion to work as a deterrent I would love to hear it.

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I'm not sure MA can suspend

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I'm not sure MA can suspend an out of state license like that, and they certainly cannot impose their own penalties, fines, or fees for reinstatement of an OOS license.

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Earth to Barhopper

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Less than half of people 18 or 19 have drivers licenses now.

It also would mean nothing if you had no occasion to drive for months at a time anyway, like most Boston students.

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So is it not a crime to have

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So is it not a crime to have a fake ID for the purpose of committing a crime? Why are underage patrons not fined or charged for using a fake ID for a fraudulent purpose?

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It is a crime

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The kids are typically summonsed to court for minor in possession of alcohol and, if they presented a fake ID, an additional charge. If it's their first offense, they'll typically get a continued without a finding. If they stay out of trouble for some period (6 months), they'll wind up with a clean record.

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Meanwhile

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Drunk drivers kill, maim, and injure over and over again and get sent home on $5 bail.

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Prove it

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Please cite specific examples of people facing OUI and motor-vehicle homicide cases released on $5 bail.

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Here's an idea

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Why doesn't someone from the board go there on a Friday night to supplement the security team and show the staff how it should be done?

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For real

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Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said that despite his night hours and the questioning, Liakos needs to do even more.

I mean, one of these kids literally slipped into the back door - which for obvious fire reasons they can't keep locked. It sounds like the guy is doing his level best -- maybe it's time to look at punishments for the people who are actually breaking the law.

When I was in college, we would go to an older friends' house and drink, or drink in our apartment after paying the neighborhood creep 50$ for bud lights. There's no reason these kids have a god given right to go out and break the law in public spaces.

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Sure they can

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I mean, one of these kids literally slipped into the back door - which for obvious fire reasons they can't keep locked.

It can be locked from the outside, not the inside. It can be alarmed from the inside -- you open it, you set the alarm, etc.

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Yep

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Liakos said the door normally is locked from the outside, but that a dishwasher left it open to throw out the trash (so he could get back in), and in that short time, Our Hero snuck in.

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I realize it may hurt

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I realize it may hurt business a bit but why not go the wrist band route. If you want to drink you have to have the proper wrist band on. I assume money is being made because if there are that many people trying to sneak in then there must be lots of people in there legally.

I don't know what else a bar owner can do though if the machines don't scan properly. How are the investigators figuring out those customers are not of age if the bar can't figure it out? That is my biggest question with the fake id's.

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Whose bad luck?

"In the second incident, on Feb. 17, an underage woman had the bad luck of hoisting a friend's beer to her lips just as detectives entered the restaurant and spied her. Although they agreed they had no evidence she purchased any beer herself, they said they confiscated a fraudulent West Virginia license from her."

Sure, she lost a crappy fake license, but are there any other repercussions for the underage woman? Might I suggest a hefty fine, payable in cash or community service?

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bc should put a bar on campus

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Wellesley college did. Now all the Wellesley girls can get drunk in the privacy of their own campus and they don't have to worry about crazy Bentley guys with Trump signs terrorizing them.

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Excellent way

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To create an even more isolated, insular, fake world for college-age students already struggling to come to terms with the harshness of real life.

On the one hand we have people lamenting college students being treated like children when they should be treated as adults (lower drinking age to 18), and on the other hand we have people lamenting college students being thrust into a world that (GASP) they have to share with people with differing views.

If Wellesley College students can't handle someone with differing viewpoints speaking at them loudly, so they have to retreat to their sheltered, wooded campus world, then Wellesley College has some serious issues to fix.

If a bar that is a stone's throw away from a major university can't deal with underage drinkers, then that bar has some serious issues to fix.

TL;DR: a bit of discomfort builds character, and college kids drink.

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Nice strawman

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If Wellesley College students can't handle someone with differing viewpoints speaking at them loudly, so they have to retreat to their sheltered, wooded campus world, then Wellesley College has some serious issues to fix.

Or, you know, Wellesley is a dry town, there aren't any other bars there to go to, and maybe people don't feel like taking a 45 minute bus ride to Boston in order to have a drink on a weeknight? But sure, grandstand about "kids these days and their sheltered environments".

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Mommm. MOOOOOMMMMMMM!

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The people who can't stand not knowing what sort of genitalia the person in the next restroom stall may have and panic at the thought that theirs doesn't match are preaching about safe spaces again!

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I wish they would put a bar

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I wish they would put a bar somewhere near Conte Forum. I attend some hockey games up there and usually I go to Cityside and then make that long, freezing walk around the reservoir.

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One probable reason why

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he has hundreds of BC students trying to get in...word gets out that it is easy to get a drink if you are underage at this bar. The owners should indeed chat with the other bars in the area and see how they handle it. And, methinks he needs to hire more security staff.

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Hire a police detail

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Hire a cop to work with the doormen. There was nothing more fun than to call out of line a 19 year-old know-it-all, determine his ID was fake and offer him the chance to walk away or handcuffs on a felony charge of uttering a forged instrument or altering a Registry document. Also, few could reproduce the signature on the fake ID when handed pen and paper.

Police also have instant access to the nationwide license database so something like the West Virginia fake ID could be easily detected.

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hey fish

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don't forget to crack the 19 year old on the head before you send him on his way....

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This is actually a good idea

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I've hired Police Details for private parties. Worked like a charm.

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Police also have instant

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Police also have instant access to the nationwide license database

Yeah - and they can arrest you for having an SSN that doesn't match your birthplace, amirite?

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Your birthplace doesn't

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Your birthplace doesn't equate to where your SSN is issued from. It's commonly done at birth, but not always. I didn't get mine until I was 5, and lived in a different state than I was born in.

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I too am shocked...

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Shocked that underage 'kids' would try to buy and drink alcohol. To paraphrase Dapper O'Neil: 'it's enough to make ya sick!'

Lower the G*d damned drinking age to the age of legal emancipation: 18. You hit 18, you are an adult. Period. Full stop.

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