The owner of the Bell in Hand on Union Street told the Boston Licensing Board this morning he immediately fired three workers because of their role in a December incident in which two underage people were allowed to buy and drink vodka and Red Bull - right before a couple of BPD licensing detectives walked in for an inspection.
It was one of several hearings today involving what one bar attorney called "wily students" keep turning to increasingly sophisticated IDs printed in China to score drinks at local bars.
All the establishments were cited after unscheduled inspections by BPD detectives. In one case, involving the Lincoln Tavern on West Broadway in South Boston, a woman who was of age tried to pass two IDs - one of them real - to her underage friend as detectives approached, but she wasn't fast enough to evade the eye of one of the detectives.
In the Bell In Hand case, three people who came for dinner - two of them UNH students - sidled over to the bar area and ordered a round of vodkas and Red Bulls around 10 p.m. on Dec. 24. The one who was of age was a seasonal waitress at the tavern. Owner Adam Kessler said she is no longer welcome to return to work. Also fired were the waitress who served the three and a doorman. Kessler said he takes underage drinking seriously and that the firings should impress that fact on other workers.
Also having to answer up for an underage drinker was T's Pub on Commonwealth Avenue, where detectives found an under-21 BU student with a gin and tonic around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.
A manager told the board this was an unfortunate incident because the bar, located basically in the middle of BU, has to stay on its toes all the time. And even though T's Pub confiscates stacks of fake IDs every month from would-be underage drinkers, "it doesn't stop them from coming," he said.
The Lincoln Tavern came next and had to explain why detectives found two young women - one of legal age - at the bar with vodkas. Det. Daniel MacDonald said that as he and his partner walked in around 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 13 and headed towards them, the older woman tried passing two IDs to the younger one. One was a fake Texas ID, the other was an actual Connecticut license belonging to a third woman not at the bar. When asked how she came into possession of that license, the woman replied "I found it in my coat."
A bar manager said the bartender was fired the next day and the staffs at the Lincoln Tavern and the two other nearby restaurants under the same ownership underwent retraining. The Lincoln Tavern now also has a doorman on duty seven nights a week to check IDs.
Lincoln attorney Dennis Quilty said bars across the city keep having trouble with "wily kids with money to spend," who upload their photos and info to Web sites that then send them good, fake ID cards.
Some bars now have door staff checking driver's licenses with jeweler's loupes because the counterfeiters have yet to figure out how to reproduce the incredibly small type many states now use to print words on real IDs as an anti-counterfeiting measure.