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Melrose store sanctioned for selling alcohol to minor

Posted by Matt Byrne  June 29, 2011 10:04 AM

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Of more than a dozen liquor selling or serving establishments tested last month, only one -- The Cellar Fine Wines & Beers on Main Street -- sold alcohol to a teen who was working with city officials, according to the Melrose Health Department.

"This is the [Cellar's] second violation occurring within two years under the same ownership," the department said in a statement Tuesday.

The store's liquor license will be suspended for three consecutive days, according to the city.

The store was opened in 2009 as McDonough's Fine Wines. In March 2011, Leonard Mello took over management of the store and changed the name.

In a phone interview Mello said he has since implemented a new computer system that requires an electronic scan of every customer’s ID and a manual entry by a cashier of date of birth information to complete an alcohol sale.

“Obviously if the employee doesn't follow the regulation, it's difficult,” said Mello, reached by phone. The employee who made the sale still works at the store, and has been disciplined, Mello said. The store is scheduled to halt alcoholic beverage sales July 10, 11, and 12, Mello said.

“[The employee] said it was just a lapse in his judgment,” he said.


The compliance check of the 14 businesses last month was the fifth performed by the Melrose Police, Health Department, and Liquor Licensing Commission since they began the program in 2009, the city said.

The operation employs local youth age 16 to 20 who attempt to purchase alcohol without showing identification.

When first introduced three years ago, only three of the eight bars, liquor stores, and restaurants tested denied the sale without ID.

A year later, that rate jumped to seven of nine in compliance. At a third check two months later, not one business sold liquor to the city's underage agent, according to figures provided by the city.

This year, the businesses selected were a mix of three stores that sold liquor, and a variety of eleven restaurants, bars, and clubs.

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