For the first time in more than 10 years, compliance checks -- often referred to as "stings" -- of East Providence businesses that serve or sell alcohol found none selling to underage customers.
Jennifer Wall, coordinator of the East Providence Prevention Coalition, gave that "good news" to the East Providence City Council last Tuesday evening, Sept. 3.
Wall said that 23 of the 80-plus businesses with liquor licenses were entered in July by underage “youth decoys” who were sent into the stores or restaurants to buy alcohol while an East Providence police officer waited outside.
None of the businesses sold alcohol to the underage customers, she said. The businesses were selected at random.
"I think the media coverage of the City Council's decisions sent a direct message to these businesses," she said. "I think the strict penalties caused people to take a second look at the way they do business."
Wall’s report contrasted sharply with a sting operation early this year that found 9 businesses sold or served alcohol to underage customers -- several for a second or third time.
The owners of those establishments went through liquor-license hearings before the City Council sitting as the licensing board. All of the violators were fined by the councilors; two businesses received more severe penalties – closure for three days, and suspension of their liquor license for 6 months.
"Youth decoys" are between the ages of 17 and 19, Wall said. They do nothing to disguise their ages.
"We tell them to dress casual and dress their ages," she said.
The businesses that went through compliance checks in July include: Barrington Liquors, the Bowling Academy, Brookfield Liquors, Campino Restaurant, Chelo's of Newport Avenue, Cilantro Mexican Grill, Comedy Connections, Davenport's Restaurant, East Providence Lanes, Farnsworth Cafe, Gregg's Restaurant, Holy Ghost Brotherhood of Charity, Lincoln Bar & Grill, Madeira Restaurant, McGreen's Fine Wine & Spirits, New Buffet, Oxford Tavern, Portuguese American Athletic Club, Riverside Liquors, Riviera Inn, Tennis Rhode Island, Town Pizza, and Tropical Ilhas.