BC students scattered like mice when state alcohol inspectors walked into their party at Servia on State Street one April night, but inspectors were able to interview enough of them for a hearing that means the Middle Eastern restaurant will have to go without a liquor license for a week next month.
Following a hearing on the April 9 incident, the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission also ordered a seven-day suspension because the restaurant let the kids join employees in taking off their masks, in violation of state Covid-19 regulations, but said that suspension could be served the same week - Oct. 18 to Oct. 24 - as the one for serving minors.
According to the commission's summary of the case, inspectors arrived at the restaurant around 10:40 p.m. and, through the restaurant's windows, "observed approximately 21 youthful looking individuals inside," many without masks on and some holding what appeared to be adult beverages. When the inspectors tried to enter, they found the door locked.
After several minutes of knocking on the door with no response, they began flashing their flashlights and holding up their official IDs, after which a restaurant staffer let them in. The summary continues that as soon as they began flashing their lights:
Investigators observed the large group of youthful looking individuals began to scatter, walking to the back of the establishment out of investigators' line of sight. Some of the individuals exited the establishment via a side door to a common hallway shared with the attached residential building
Once inside, the inspectors made their way to the dining room, as still more of the people tried to either flee or hide from the people with badges. Several people sat at the restaurant bar as the inspectors moved in, but inspectors ignored them because they appeared to be well above 21.
Despite the scattering, inspectors were able to detain seven people, several holding Moscow Mules, one with a White Claw and one with a Coors Light, who had fake licenses from a variety of states, all either 19 or 20. They further talked to three underagers who were, however, not in possession of anything alcoholic.
After they were done with the students,the investigators talked to the manager on duty. He told them a BC group organized the party and rented the dining room for the night - and that he had scanned all their IDs at the door and that the device all showed them to be legit IDs, although, in fact, many were not. Two immediately scanned as bogus on a handheld ID scanner one of the inspectors had.
What about the fact most of the people were maskless?
Mr. Alten seemed confused and stated that he was hosting a private party which is why people were standing without any facial coverings. Investigators informed Mr. Alten that even if it was a private party, COVID guidelines must still be followed.
Besides, it wasn't legally a private party, since the restaurant was letting regular customers - the older people at the bar - in, the investigators told him. They noted that neither the manager nor the one other employee on duty that night wore masks.
Another mistake: Despite its normal cuisine, the food at the event consisted of some pizzas sitting on a table, which nobody seemed to be eating. The restaurant should have provided real sit-down food service, rather than just letting the party goers stand up and drink, the summary says.