Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

June 20, 2013

Town's stand on liquor laws loud and clear

The Board of Selectmen is clearly not joking when it comes to being vigilant about underage drinking and liquor laws in Andover.

Just ask the operators of Raagini Indian Bistro in Shawsheen Plaza.

Selectmen laid down the law before Raagini was awarded its liquor license late last year. They told the management they took the laws seriously and violations would not be tolerated.

Less than six months after Raagini’s opening comes a report that the 24-year-old manager is providing a 17-year-old female employee alcohol after hours at the restaurant. Selectmen, as the town’s liquor licensing authorities, conducted a public hearing on the alleged violation this week.

It didn’t matter that the manager, Jaspreet “Jessi” Pabla, came clean and admitted to the infraction. Or that he promised never to do it again.

The fact that it appears to be the restaurant’s first formal violation also wasn’t a point of consideration for selectmen.

The board came down on Raagini’s operators and came down hard, serving them with a 30-day suspension of their license to serve alcohol.

It’s interesting to note that the lone dissenter in the 4-1 vote was Selectman Mary Lyman, who has been strident in her desire to enforce the liquor laws. She was willing to go a little lighter in her punishment for fear the harsh penalty could kill the business.

Still, Lyman admonished Pabla for not taking officials’ warnings seriously six months ago when Raagini’s liquor license was initially issued.

“I can’t believe you didn’t hear how strongly I believe in this,” she told him at the public hearing. “I thought I left you with a very strong impression, as a parent, that this isn’t tolerated. This isn’t something we have any degree of tolerance for. If any child in the town loses their life or is injured in any way, I take it personally.”

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