Montgomery County, Maryland, liquor officials have allowed Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge to keep its liquor license but levied $15,000 in fines against the popular restaurant.
A county liquor board investigative report, obtained by the News-4 I-Team, showed the agency found a series of violations at the restaurant during an August 2014 inspection. Those violations included the serving of alcohol to underage people and the “over-serving” of alcohol to others, including one person who registered a 0.23 on a Breathalyzer test, almost three times the legal limit for intoxication.
According to photos obtained by the I-Team and interviews with county liquor board staff, at least one patron was drinking beer directly from a pitcher at the restaurant on that August evening. Another customer was drinking wine directly from a wine bottle. The agency’s investigation found a fake ID was being used by at least one of the underage drinkers. Investigators also reported four underage people drinking together at one table.
The violations occurred on a Monday night, not considered a traditionally vibrant night for liquor service.
The liquor board’s official investigative report attributes some of the violations to a drink special featuring “half price wine bottles that attracted youth to the business.” County liquor board investigator Ron Price said the conduct and liquor sales at the restaurant that evening were “out-of-control.” Price said, "I mean for crying out loud, you're not serving Coca-Cola. You're serving someone a beverage that can alter their behavior. You serve a large container of alcohol, then what's going to happen? (Drinkers) are going to get intoxicated.”
The county liquor board opted not to revoke Clyde’s Tower Oaks' liquor license because the violations were first offenses for the restaurant, police said. The board opted for $15,000 in fines “out of fairness” to the restaurant, Price said.
The restaurant has since canceled all of its drink specials, a Clyde’s spokesman said. The restaurant has also provided additional training on alcohol compliance rules for its staff, he said. The Clyde’s restaurant group has eliminated beer pitchers at all of its locations, he said.
The restaurant has experienced zero violations during the county’s follow-up inspections, a county liquor board official said.