Knox County Sheriff’s Office cited eight Farragut food and drink establishments for allegedly serving beer to minors.
KCSO cited Big Kahuna Wings, El Paraiso, Casual Pint, Hana Sushi & Hibachi, Mind Yer Ps and Qs, Snappy Tomato and China Pearl with selling beer to undercover underage officers during an April 21 sting.
Farragut Beer Board heard each of their cases May 12. All of them received a choice between fine or temporary suspension.
Representatives from all of the businesses plead guilty except for two of them, El Paraiso, for which no representative attended the meeting and Snappy Tomato, for which Simeon Kross, the owner and operator, said he was not guilty of the charge.
“The sale was not completed,” Kross said. He said the beers had remained on the counter. “That is not the customer’s table, not the customer’s hand,” he said.
Snappy Tomato received a choice between a $100 fine or seven day suspension.
El Paraiso did not send a representative. It received the choice of a 30-day suspension of beer serving privileges or a $700 fine, both harsher penalties than any other establishment received.
“They had the opportunity to be here,” Thomas M. Hale, Town attorney, said.
While China Pearl, Hana Sushi and Hibachi and Casual Pint received $200 fines or 7-day probations, Big Kahuna Wings and Mind Yer Ps and Qs both received $100 fines as alternatives to a week suspension. In both cases, representatives cited large fines already charged by the state. Marci Stiles of Mind Yer Ps and Qs said her business had already been fined $1,500.
Matt Dealer of Big Kahuna Wings said he had already paid $1,000 to the state due to wine license issues.
Alderman Bob Markli said the lowered fine for Big Kahuna came with the condition that Big Kahuna Wings could provide a receipt for the transaction.
“We’re zero tolerance, just like law enforcement,” Dealer said. He said Big Kahuna wings fired the employee who served the underage officer.
Cory Barton, full-time manager of Hana Suchi and Hibachi said the restaurant’s owners had hired him as a result of this incident. He described the owners as “devastated.”
“Such a misrepresentation of the family name,” he said.
Chang Sheng Yuan, manager for China Pearl spoke to the beer board through a translator about the incident and his efforts to prevent it from happening again.
“We have taken tremendous measures,” he said. “My goal is to be moral, to operate by conscience,” he said.