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Erik Burgess, Published March 03 2014

Fargo denies Santa Lucia owner's plea to waive fee after alcohol compliance failure

FARGO – City commissioners here unanimously turned down a restaurant owner’s plea to have a fee forgiven after an alcohol compliance test failure in December.

Maria Wilson, owner of Santa Lucia, asked the city to forgive the $750 fee after two servers in her restaurant miscalculated a 20-year-old patron’s age and served her alcohol.

Wilson told The Forum last month that she shouldn’t have to pay the fee because her servers were not properly taught how to use a calculator to determine a bar patron’s age in the city’s mandatory alcohol service training class. She also said she wanted the server training classes improved.

Wilson didn’t attend Monday night’s commission meeting.

City Auditor Steve Sprague showed the commission an example of a North Dakota driver’s license. For someone under 21, the license is vertically oriented, and a red bar near the photo says on what date the person turns 21.

“So there literally is no math to do,” Sprague said.

Santa Lucia has failed four alcohol compliance checks since 2009. In three of those cases, including the most recent, the server had not been to server training, Sprague said.

“So it’s hard to say that we’re not teaching them how to do the math if they haven’t gone to the class,” he said.

The commission voted 5-0 to deny Wilson’s request that the $750 fee be waived.

Commissioner Brad Wimmer said the server training classes, which are put on by Fargo Cass Public Health, seem to be well-received by other liquor license holders.

“We don’t have a lot of these issues,” Wimmer said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518