Liquor Violation Penalties for Mansfield Establishments

In back to back liquor violation hearings that took several hours to resolve, selectmen last week meted out punishments to the Mansfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3264 and Sake Steak House, reports the Mansfield News.

The Sake restaurant received a letter of reprimand and agreed to a make a $1,000 “voluntary donation” to the town for its three violations of state liquor laws.

The wars post will lose its liquor license for a day based on police evidence that a former manager was served two drinks at the bar before allegedly striking a mother and her baby while driving drunk.

Selectman Doug Annino voted against the one-day penalty, saying serving the manager of the bar while he was intoxicated showed a “lack of judgment.”

“I think it’s very serious. I don’t know if a one-day suspension is enough,” he said.

Police Chief Arthur O’Neill said John J. Camara, 79, of Norton, failed both field sobriety and breathalyzer tests after the incident on Dec. 18. He faces charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, causing serious injury, and operating to endanger. But he said the VFW had not had a violation in more than a decade.

The post will not appeal the decision to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Camara resigned his position in January. The post will suspend its license on Feb. 22

Selectmen said Sake Steak House in Mansfield Crossing broke three liquor laws with its sake squirting ritual and should face an additional monetary penalty.

Owner Kevin Shi admitted to the violations including serving alcohol to a minor.

Police filed a complaint against the restaurant after the father of a 19-year old college student told an officer that a chef had sprayed sake, or rice wine, into his mouth as part of the”hibachi” food preparation entertainment when the family was dining there on Dec. 30. The man also told police he heard patrons chanting “sake” and a chef responding by squirting sake into their mouths.

Those actions violate the Massachusetts “happy hour” law that prohibits licensees from offering free drinks, except for “tastings,” and from encouraging the use of alcohol as part of a game.

“This is not a frat house. This is a restaurant,” Annino said.

Shi said he stopped squirting sake the day after the complaint was filed and had replaced the wine with soda.

Guidelines for liquor violations adopted in 2005 call for a letter of reprimand and one- to three-day suspension for a first violation. But selectmen failed to get a majority vote on a penalty three times.

Citing a new state option that allowed them to fine an establishment without shutting it down, they decided on the reprimand and penalty.

But, while a fine would be collected by the state, a “free and voluntary” donation could be handed over to the town.

Shi donated the $1,000 to the town’s fuel assistance program.

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