MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Twin Cities restaurants are getting busted for serving alcohol to underage drinkers.

Eden Prairie police officers regularly go undercover to make sure bars and restaurants are checking IDs.

In a recent operation, 15 of the 54 license holders failed the test. That’s more than police typically see.

“The way we do the alcohol compliance checks is by using an underage buyer that’s vetted through the police department, in combination with an officer,” said Eden Prairie Police Lt. Matt Sackett.

Tavern 4& 5 was one of 15 business that recently failed an alcohol compliance check. General manager Dave Guistolise says a liquor license is a vital part of his business.

“It’s very, very unusual [to fail a compliance check],” Guistolise said. “We’ve got a big staff, but we take training seriously.”

When that happens, servers are held responsible.

“The employee that fails will get charged with a crime,” said Mike Jennings, owner of Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar.

The consequences vary by city, but it’s a gross misdemeanor in Eden Prairie, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail, up to a $3,000 fine, or both, The business pays, too.

“It’s a one-day suspension of your license and usually a fine that can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000,” Jennings said.

Business owners say that often times the issue is that employees are checking IDs, but they’re just not doing the math on the exact birth year — but police say there’s a solution for that.

“With the newest driver’s license out there, it’s pretty easy to catch being that underage people have a vertical license versus a horizontal,” Sackett said.

Out of the 15 recent failures, more than half of the servers asked for an ID, but served the under-aged person anyway.

“We have a little cheat sheet for our staff in the back, and every day we update what the carding date is,” Guistolise said.

On top of their usual training, Tavern 4&5 will be having a follow up re-training soon to make sure servers don’t get themselves, or their employers, in hot water.

“Serving alcohol is a responsibility. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege, and it’s something that we take seriously,” Guistolise said.

Here is the full list of the Eden Prairie businesses involved:

  • Applebee’s
  • Bowerlo Sports Bar
  • Champps Restaurant
  • Gigo Bros. House
  • Great Mandarin Restaurant
  • Hilton Hotel
  • Indian Cuisine
  • Lion’s Tap Restaurant
  • Lotus Leaf
  • Peoples Organic Coffee and Wine
  • Pizza Karma
  • Red’s Savoy Pizza
  • Residence Inn Hotel
  • Tavern 4&5 Restaurant

Erin Hassanzadeh