ABC checks businesses to see if they are breaking the law

ABC goes undercover to check if businesses are selling alcohol to minors

Posted:
"We want to make sure our businesses are complying with the law and not selling alcohol to minors," said Special Agent Terry Hill. "We want to make sure our businesses are complying with the law and not selling alcohol to minors," said Special Agent Terry Hill.
The first restaurant on the ABC's list to be checked, JT Hannah's in Pigeon Forge, was cited for selling to a minor. The first restaurant on the ABC's list to be checked, JT Hannah's in Pigeon Forge, was cited for selling to a minor.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - Agents with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission spent Friday doing an undercover operation checking to see if businesses are selling alcohol to minors. Several businesses in East Tennessee have been cited.

The sting focused on 68 restaurants and package stores in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

As of Friday evening, 24 businesses had been inspected, with 14 cited for selling alcohol to a minor.

6 News Reporter Stephanie Beecken rode along with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission as they checked multiple restaurants in Pigeon Forge.

Special Agent Terry Hill has worked for the Alcoholic Beverage Commission for 29 years. He says the ABC regularly checks for underage alcohol sales, in East Tennessee that's nearly 900 businesses.

"We want to make sure our businesses are complying with the law and not selling alcohol to minors," said Hill.

To conduct the operation an undercover agent will accompany someone under the age of 21 into an establishment, that person considered a minor by ABC, will ask to buy alcohol.

"We will check to see if the one serving them checks their ID prior to the sell," said Hill.

According to officials checking a Tennessee ID shouldn't be difficult. A license for someone under the age of 21 has a large red line on it with the date the minor turns 21.

If a minor is given alcohol both the server and the business will be cited. During Friday's operation the ABC will check 68 businesses in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Hill says on average 25 percent of the businesses will be busted for selling to minors.

The first restaurant on the ABC's list to be checked, JT Hannah's in Pigeon Forge, was cited for selling to a minor. We are keeping the special agent's identity hidden because he works undercover.

"The server in there served the minor a beer she checked the individuals ID and she still served the minor a beer," said the undercover ABC agent.

JT Hannah's was issued a fine. The first offense is $1,500. The server was issued a misdemeanor citation and will have to go to court.

"They may be assessed a monetary fine and given probation," said Hill.

The second business checked in Pigeon Forge was Cheddar's. They too sold alcohol to minor.

"The server served him a beer and did not check the minors ID," said the undercover ABC agent.

Again the server will be cited and the business will be fined. Patrick Sells, the Assistant Manager at Cheddar's, would not say if the server would keep her job. He just insisted the law would not be violated there again.

"It will not happen again and that's one thing we pride ourselves in on following all the rules that we are supposed to," said Sells.

The ABC sometimes recruits criminal justice students to be the minor working with the agent to try and purchase alcohol.

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