Admitting and serving underage patrons will cost Chasers, located at 110 W. Washington St., a fine that Mayor Tari Renner called “unprecedented.”
On Oct. 2, the Bloomington Liquor Commission issued the local tavern a $14,000 fine for admitting and serving alcohol to 26 underage patrons on May 3 and six underage patrons on April 26.
“As the newly elected mayor, I promised that I would clean up downtown, make it safe and that I was going to be tough and serious in enforcing the liquor laws across the board,” Renner said.
“We certainly want people to come downtown and have a good time, but we want them to be safe and we want them to respect the city. We need to stabilize this situation.”
The $14,000 fine is only the beginning of a penalty that is more than punitive, Renner added.
City attorney George Boyle said Chasers argued that underage patrons used fake IDs to gain entrance to the bar.
In response, the liquor commission is requiring Chasers to install a camera system that will check identification cards and take photographs of them alongside each patron.
The camera must be installed by Nov. 15, and Chasers can deduct $2,500 off the fine amount.
The bar’s liquor license will also be suspended for two days, from 2 a.m. on Nov. 29 until 2 a.m. on Dec. 1.
All employees must complete a Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education Training (BASSET) course by the end of the year.
Since the violations, Chasers has discharged the door staff in place at the time of the violation.
“My client intends to be a good operator and on the whole has been a good operator. The camera can be effective in preventing and a good source of documentation in the future,” Robert Lenz, an attorney for Chasers owner Ron Nurceski, said.
Renner agreed that Chasers’ infractions came as a shock to local authorities.
He said, “Chasers has actually got a pretty good record. They’re not one of our problem bars in downtown.”
Chasers faced similar charges in June 2010 when they served alcohol to two underage patrons. Before that, its last violation was in May 2005.
When sanctioning liquor establishments, the liquor commission generally looks at the violation history over the previous three years. Chasers’ sanctions are up for review on Jan. 14.