Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 17, 2005

LP bar cited for failing compliance check
Bar is unhappy with the way check was conducted

By Ryan Gueningsman

Staff Writer

A “cock and bull” story given to a local bartender by a youth recruited by the Lester Prairie Police Department to do a compliance check isn’t sitting well with Dave Groff of the Porthole Bar and Cafe.

Several times a year, law enforcement agencies conduct compliance checks at establishments that offer alcohol and tobacco to see if they meet requirements for checking identification proving that people are old enough to purchase the products.

Groff was present to discuss the compliance check conducted at the Porthole in late July at last Tuesday’s Lester Prairie City Council meeting.

Two youths were sent into The Porthole, both without identification, to see if they could purchase beer.

The two approached the bar, and were told by the bartender that they could not receive alcohol without identification, according to Groff.

“Dave did his job,” Groff said, referring to his bartender, Dave Donnay. “Once they were told ‘no,’ they should have turned around and walked out the door.”

As the two youth were walking toward the door, one of them came back and offered Donnay a story about being in the military, being home for a week-and-a-half, having lost his paperwork in the mail, and asked Donnay to “do a soldier a favor and get him a beer,” Groff said.

In a voluntary statement given to police following the incident, Donnay admitted serving the youth a beer, according to a formal complaint. He was convicted of the gross misdemeanor charge of providing alcohol to a person under 21 Sept. 19, and has to pay a $400 fine and surcharge.

“I’m just appalled,” Groff said. “I can’t believe you’d use the Iraq war.”

Groff also made reference to a law that he said went into effect Sept. 1 stating if a person portrays himself as military personnel, it is punishable up to a felony count. None of the council members, nor Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson, were familiar with the law Groff brought up.

“I informed Mr. Groff that I would look into his concerns,” Carlson said.

It was the consensus of the city council that if the person didn’t have a form of identification, he should have been asked to leave the establishment – no questions asked.

In addition to the court proceedings with Donnay, the bar was also charged with a $750 civil penalty, payable within 30 days, by the City of Lester Prairie for the violation, as it was the second violation within 24 months.

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